November 29, 2022

NYC Mayor Adams’ migrant tent camp plan panned by Bronx BP Vanessa Gibson: ‘Not the ideal location’

Mayor Adams’ plan to house hundreds of Latin American migrants in tents in a Bronx parking lot drew skepticism Monday from the Boogie Down’s borough president, who charged that the site is not suitable for several reasons.

The BP, Vanessa Gibson, said she’s concerned that the parking lot at Orchard Beach is prone to flooding — a fact that could become especially problematic as hurricane season picks up. Gibson also said access to public transit is notoriously poor at the remote beach, with no nearby subway connections and scant bus service.

Still, Gibson affirmed she won’t stand in the way of the camp, which is expected to house upward of 1,000 migrants at a time.

“While this is not the ideal location and we have raised reasonable concerns, my team and I are working with the Adams administration to ensure that any site designated for our borough has wraparound services,” she said in a statement.

“These services must be provided in a dignified, humane, quality, and safe space that does not do further harm nor add burden to clients and families. Under these emergency circumstances, we will work together with the administration in a balanced and strategic manner to ensure the Bronx is not overburdened.”

Mayor Eric Adams and Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson

The Federal Emergency Management Agency considers the entire Orchard Beach parking lot a “special flood hazard area.” The city also lists the parking lot as a “Zone 1″ hurricane evacuation area, meaning it’s especially vulnerable to dangerous flooding during storms.

Adams administration officials have not addressed the weather-related vulnerabilities of the site. They have said the city plans to provide a shuttle bus service for migrants to be able to come and go form the tent facilities as they please.

An Adams spokeswoman would not comment directly on Gibson’s Monday statement, but said 50 sites across all five boroughs were evaluated before the administration set its sights on Orchard Beach.

The Orchard Beach location is expected to only house single adults, but the administration has said it plans to open at least one more tent facility for migrant families.

A past example of what the inside of a Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center will look like that would only shelter single adults, according to the mayor's office. Families would be sheltered in a humanitarian relief center with a different setup.

Gibson’s critique comes as the city’s homeless shelter system remains overburdened by a recent influx of South and Central American migrants.

As of Thursday, more than 13,000 migrants fleeing violence and economic turmoil in their home countries had arrived in the city after crossing the U.S. southern border in hopes of applying for asylum, and hundreds more are coming every week, according to data from Adams’ administration. On Thursday night, 58,152 people slept in city shelters — more than 10,000 of them migrants, the data shows.

Many of the desperate travelers were sent to New York by Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has turned the crisis on the southern border into a political cudgel against Democratic immigration policies.

The waves of migrants have brought city shelters to the brink of collapse, and the tent camp is an effort by Adams to alleviate pressure on the system.

According to Adams, the tents will serve as intake centers, meaning migrants should not have to stay there longer than 96 hours before being provided shelter beds or other permanent housing.

But homeless advocates have suggested the tent plan may run afoul of the local right-to-shelter law, which requires the city to provide anyone who needs it a “safe and adequate” place to stay.

In her statement, Gibson also made reference to the shelter law — which Adams’ administration already likely violated on two separate occasions this summer.

“As our city has seen an increase in asylum seekers, it is important for us to share in this emergency crisis and ensure that we are all doing our part to assist,” she said. “The City of New York is a right-to-shelter city and is legally required to provide temporary housing to those who enter our shelter system.”

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