Mayor Eric Adams’ administration started Wednesday to boot hundreds of single adult migrants from Manhattan hotels and residence halls to make room for asylum-seeking families with children amid a shortage of shelter space, according to a city government official directly familiar with the matter.
The adult migrants getting moved out are being transported to the administration’s new tent-style mega shelter on Randalls Island, which has capacity for 2,000 people, said the official, who spoke on condition of anonymity as he wasn’t authorized to discuss the matter with the press.
The source, who was posted Wednesday morning outside one of the move-out facilities, the Stratford Arms dormitory on the Upper West Side, told the Daily News that NYPD officers were on site as migrants were taken on buses to Randalls. As of noon Wednesday, two busloads of migrants had been transported from the Stratford to Randalls, according to the source.
The other three migrant shelter sites where adults were being moved out are the Amsterdam dormitory, also on the Upper West Side, the Wolcott Hotel in Midtown and a downtown Manhattan Holiday Inn.
Jennifer Guerrero, 29, a Venezuelan migrant who got kicked out of Stratford Arms, stood on the street Wednesday afternoon with several suitcases, a shoe rack, a TV and bags of food — the belongings she’s collected since arriving in New York two months ago.
Guerrero, who has picked up shifts as a cook at a restaurant in Queens, did not accept a bus ride to Randalls because she said she’s scared of losing her belongings. She said a volunteer has offered to put her up in a room for the time being, and added that she’s “outraged” that the city kicked her out of the Stratford.
“If you are giving help to people, you cannot take them away. It’s an injustice,” she said, speaking in Spanish. “I want to rent an apartment, to keep my things. How can I start a life here? I have a court hearing in November, and in five months, I will apply for my papers. And how do I do that now? I can’t. How do I change residence again? I’ll have to start over. It’s unfair.”
The source said the busing initiative is expected to continue through Friday, and that migrant families should be able to start moving into the four sites by next week.
The shakeup is happening because the city’s quickly running out of shelter space designated for families with kids, as hundreds more migrants continue to arrive every week, according to the source.
In a briefing at City Hall later Wednesday, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom would not say how many adult migrants in total are expected to be bused to Randalls as part of this week’s relocation effort.
But she confirmed the city is very short on space for migrant families.
“With 100,000 people coming to the city, there are no good solutions, and so what we would like to do is to prioritize families with children,” she said. “In those places where there are single adults doubled up or tripled up in hotel rooms or in different places like that we want to move them into congregate settings, so that we can have more space for families with children.”
City Councilwoman Gale Brewer, a Democrat who represents a Manhattan district that includes the Stratford Arms and Amsterdam dorms, welcomed the shelter transfers. She acknowledged that her office has received complaints from constituents about rowdy behavior from migrants staying at the Stratford Arms.
“The Stratford Arms has been a little bit challenging,” she said. “There’s a lot of tension there.”
Adams and his advisers have repeatedly said in recent weeks that they want to reserve hotels and other housing facilities with individual rooms for migrant families.
The administration in July implemented a policy limiting city shelter stays to 60 days for migrant adults. The thinking goes that restriction will help free up space for families with kids, but some advocates say it will result in migrants ending up sleeping in the streets.
Under the city’s right-to-shelter mandate, it is prohibited to house kids in congregate settings, such as the tent shelter on Randalls. The Adams administration has asked a state Supreme Court judge to allow the city to suspend the right-to-shelter mandate amid the migrant crisis.
In Wednesday’s briefing, Williams-Isom did not dispute reports from migrant advocates that the administration’s asylum seeker intake center at the Roosevelt Hotel is getting so crowded that some of families are spending several nights sleeping on the floor before receiving placement in an appropriate setting.
“The last time I was at the Roosevelt, every space was taken up,” she said. “You’d see moms, you’d see Pack ‘n Plays set up, so I’m not surprised to see that every inch of the Roosevelt is being used.”
According to the latest City Hall data, Adams’ administration continues to house and provide services for nearly 60,000 migrants, most of them Latin Americans, costing the city tens of millions of dollars every week. The latest cost projection provided by Adams’ budget team estimates the city is on track to spend as much as $12 billion on the migrant crisis by summer 2025.
The mayor has repeatedly said he needs a lot more financial and logistical assistance from the administrations of President Biden and Gov. Hochul, warning that the city could otherwise plummet into a fiscal collapse.
Williams-Isom echoed the mayor’s point about the need for more assistance at Wednesday’s briefing and suggested the Biden administration must do more to slow down the flow of migrants entering New York.
“I would like some help about that, and I would like to slow what’s happening at the front door a little bit,” she said.