NEW YORK - After spending hundreds of thousands of dollars to set up migrant housing on Randall's Island, the tent complex set to offer temporary housing to migrants finally opened Wednesday, but as of the evening still remained mostly empty.
The facility, which is expected to house 500 single adult men for up to four days, only had two or three migrants housed there as of Wednesday night.
According to Mayor Eric Adams, more than 20,000 migrants have arrived in the city since April. Around 15,000 of them have remained in the city, overwhelming the shelter system.
Moving forward, the tents will provide temporary housing while the city processes the migrants, but questions remain over why so few migrants arrived at the facility Wednesday.
"It is voluntary so it is possible that the migrant individuals who arrived today saw the tent and said ‘This is not where I want to be, I’m not comfortable here, this is not the right fit for me,' and decided not to go there and went elsewhere," said Kathryn Kliff, and attorney with the Legal Aid Society.
In addition, there has been a slowdown in migrants arriving in the city in the last few days. That may be in response to President Biden invoking a rule preventing Venezuelan migrants from crossing the border while their asylum requests are processed.
Venezuelans are a large proportion of the recent migrants coming into the city.
According to the City Comptroller's office, it has cost city taxpayers around $871K to build and then dismantle the tents at the original location in Orchard Beach in the Bronx and an additional $325,000 to set up on Randall's Island.