NEW YORK (AP) – A complex of giant tents built on an island is open today for an influx of international migrants being bused into the city by southern border states as New York City’s latest temporary shelter.
The humanitarian relief centre on Randall’s Island is intended to be a temporary waystation for single, adult men, many from Venezuela who have been arriving several times per week on buses chartered predominantly from Texas.
Spartan and utilitarian, the tents include cots for up to 500 people, laundry facilities, a dining hall and phones for residents to make international calls.
“We needed a different type of operation that gave us the time and space to welcome people, provide them a warm meal shower, a place to sleep, to understand their medical needs, to then work with them to figure out what their next step is going to be,” said Emergency Management Commissioner, Zach Iscol.
The white, plastic-walled tents also include a space where migrants can meet with case workers to determine their next steps, as well as a recreational room with televisions, video games and board games. In the sleeping area, row upon row of green cots stretches out, each one with a pillow, some sheets and a blanket, and some towels. The city said it will be able to double the sleeping capacity of the tents if needed.
New York City’s homeless shelter system is now bursting with more than 63,300 residents.
While there are fewer families in the shelters now than there were in the years before the pandemic, the number of single men has soared since the spring, largely because of the influx of migrants. There were more than 20,000 single adults in the shelter system on Monday, up 23 per cent from the nightly average in July.
Mayor Eric Adams declared a state of emergency earlier this month, calling the increased demand being put on the city “not sustainable”.
The tents were initially planned for a far-off corner of the Bronx, but were moved after concerns about flooding and criticism from immigrant advocates over the remote location.