As shelters fill, NYC's migrant housing draws controversy

New York City's mayor says he plans to erect hangar-sized tents as temporary shelter for thousands of international migrants who have been bused into the Big Apple as part of a campaign by Republican governors to disrupt federal border policies.

The tents are among an array of options — from using cruise ships to summer camps — the city is considering as it struggles to find housing for an estimated 13,000 migrants who have wound up in New York after being bused north from border towns in Texas and Arizona.

"This is not an everyday homelessness crisis, but a humanitarian crisis that requires a different approach," New York Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement Thursday.

FOX 5 spoke with a father from Venezuela who arrived in NYC just a few months ago with his family. To get by, he collects and recycles bottles near the shelter he and his family are staying at in Queens, sometimes making over $30 a week.

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The man and his family say the shelter, provided by the Department of Homeless Services, has the necessities they need like a kitchen, refrigerator, and a bathroom, but do note that the rules of the shelter are a bit strict when it comes to talking to neighbors. 

"The rules, you can't talk to the neighbors. We can go across the street to the park, but I think it's more dangerous out there, really," said Sarah Alvarado.

Meanwhile, the city says they are preparing for a bigger influx of asylum seekers. Mayor Adams announced their emergency relief plan to host up to a thousand people in temporary tents in the Orchard Beach parking lot in the Bronx. However, other city officials are questioning that solution.

RELATED: NYC and other 'sanctuary' cities navigate migrant influx from GOP states

"Our system is bursting. We have a problem. That problem cannot be ignored. That problem only going to get worse if we don’t get resources from the federal government," Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said at a press conference outside the shelter.

In a joint statement, the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless said it was working with city officials to come up with "a viable solution that satisfies New York’s legal and moral obligation to provide safe and adequate shelter to all who seek it, including asylum seekers."

Earlier this month, Adams had floated the idea of housing hundreds of migrants on cruise ships.

Critics pounced on that idea, saying he needs to offer more lasting solutions to a problem that has long vexed the city: How to find permanent shelter for the city’s unhoused — not just new migrants but for the considerable population of the homeless.

Overall, the number of people staying nightly in New York City's homeless shelters had fallen in recent years, partly due to the COVID-19 pandemic. That led city officials to reduce shelter capacity, leaving the system unprepared for the sudden surge in people needing help.

With the Associated Press.