New Yorkers lash out at expansion of migrant shelters across the Big Apple

Since the arrival of thousands of migrants sent from the southern border, many New York State residents have complained about the crowds on the streets and the City’s response to the situation.

New York State is at the center of a migrant crisis, or lines are approaching local swimming pools, parks, senior centers and soccer fields.

A year after buses began arriving from the southern U.S. border, the influx of thousands of immigrants is forcing the city to consider unconventional shelter options.

For this reason, citizens are increasingly wary and frustrated by both the presence of the migrants and the city’s response.

The Daily News spoke with people who live and work near two emergency shelter sites and a planned site in Williamsburg, Queens Village and Midtown about their fears for the neighborhoods and the city in which they live and work.

Likewise, Richardson feels chastened by the imposed location of migrants. They find it unbelievable that there are empty warehouses and shelters have no space left.

“You allow them to sleep outside, but you’re still on the news talking about ‘Oh, yeah, well, we want to help all these homeless people,'” residents say.

“That’s fine, we’ll give them a free house. Give them a free apartment. Help them like that. But no, you’re helping them by leaving them on the street, homeless.”

City and state authorities are grappling over how to handle the crisis and are asking the federal government to take more action.

New York City is required by law to find beds for the tens of thousands of mostly Hispanic asylum seekers who have arrived since the spring of 2022, but recently the housing rights mandate may have been violated after several dozen immigrants slept on the sidewalks in front of the Roosevelt Hotel.

Migrants sleep outside the Roosevelt Hotel while they wait to be placed in a shelter or migrant center in New York.

Migrants sleep outside the Roosevelt Hotel while they wait to be placed in a shelter or migrant center in New York. Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images

Amid political accusations, residents feel they must carry that burden, and they are not happy about it.

In eastern Queens, a tent city is being built to house male asylum seekers at the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center.

“The phones have been ringing off the hook regarding this location for the 1,000 men entering Creedmoor,” indicated Bryan Block, president of Community Board 13.

This migrant refugee facility is located near a school, popular sports fields and a YMCA and has limited transit options.

Residents of the area, which borders Nassau County on Long Island, say the location of the center for asylum seekers will be disruptive to their lives and unhelpful to the migrants.

“They feel it’s going to affect them over there with these asylum seekers walking around, because they don’t really have anything to do. They’ll just be walking around the community,” Block explained.

Seniors will be particularly hard hit by this measure, as they rely on the SNAP Senior Center, he noted.

“Seniors will be affected by this decision,” Block said. “And seniors are the backbone of our community. They’ve worked hard. They’ve paid their taxes. They’ve contributed to the upkeep of New York City over the years. And now, in their golden years, they should be able to relax and come and enjoy the rest of their lives.”

Philip Orenstein, president of the Queens Village Republican Club, called out the community against the tent city with a rally held Tuesday. The issue cuts across party lines in the area, he said: “Everyone is upset.

For his part, SNAP board chairman Corey Bearak said the location will disrupt the center’s food delivery system and make customers feel unsafe.

“Where will these people be? Would they be walking in the community? Would they just be hanging there? … We keep hearing it from our seniors, there’s a real concern about whether seniors will feel comfortable coming to the facility.”

In Williamsburg, at least 100 men sleep on cots at the McCarren Recreation Center. Some residents expressed that they were not even aware of the emergency shelter in their neighborhood.

One man identified as Michaelangelo Alloca, 60, a high school teacher who lives in Greenpoint, said he didn’t know the building was being used as a shelter, the Daily News reported.

“I think it’s horrible that the situation is so bad, and there are so many people forced out of their homes, that we have to desperately look for any place we can put them,” Allocca said.

“Honestly, my sympathy goes much more toward the people who were forced out of their homes and ended up being pushed into possibly inappropriate spaces than I worry, ‘Oh, gee, how dangerous is this going to be in my neighborhood?”‘

Also, Hispanic Michael Fuentes, 27, who works for Amazon and is a lifelong Greenpoint resident, said he feels the migrant shelter shouldn’t be so close to the pool and that some of them may become criminals.

“There are so many empty spots by the river,” he said. “Are you telling me you can’t put them there?”

The public still has access to the pool and much of the recreation center and extra security guards on site.

“They’re not doing a good job,” Shalisa Richardson, Bed-Stuy’s mother pointed out about the city government. “They’re not helping the city. They’re making the city worse by allowing all these homeless people to be here.”

“It’s not our job to be on call 24/7. That’s your job. That’s the government’s job, to make sure they have their papers, make sure they have a job, make sure they have a place to stay. ‘Oh, yeah, everybody’s crowded. It’s crowded, so we can’t really help them. They have to sleep outside. No.”

On the other hand, cart peddlers in the area are especially angry.

The immigrants, who have limited paths to work because they have not obtained work papers, have taken to selling bottles of water, fruit or candy on the street to earn money.

David Thabet, 31, works at a halal cart on the corner of W. 44th Street and Eighth Avenue across from The Row Hotel on Eighth Avenue. He is empathetic to them, himself an immigrant hailing from Egypt, but complained about the effect the migrants are having on his livelihood.

“It kills business,” Thabet expressed, pointing toward The Row. “They are all out on the street. They kill the business. The stuff is very cheap, they sell everything cheap.”

With food, gas, ice, three employees and additional costs, the cart needs to make at least $600 a day just to sustain itself, he explained. A bottle of water at Thabet’s stand will set you back $3, while unlicensed immigrant vendors across the street sell it for just a dollar.

In addition, Ibrahim Mohammad, 41, owner of two newsstands in the area, one of them in front of the hotel, agreed.

“Immigrants are stealing my stuff, taking my business,” said the Bangladeshi immigrant. “I’ve never seen New York City like this. Everything is messed up. I’ve been working here for 20 years. I’ve never seen it so disgusting.”

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