(The Center Square) — New York City Mayor Eric Adams is considering handing our tents to migrants as the city continues to grapple with the influx of tens of thousands of asylum-seekers.
The proposal, initially reported by the Wall Street Journal, calls for setting up campsite-style shelters in public parks for newly arriving migrants amid a shortage of beds in the Big Apple’s emergency shelter system.
New York City has seen an estimated 130,000 migrants arrive in the city since April 2022 — with about 65,000 currently in the city’s care — which prompted Adams to set a 60-day limit on shelter stays.
The city has already set up humanitarian tent sites — including at Randall’s Island and Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens — but tens of thousands of other migrants are staying in hotels and other emergency shelters.
On Tuesday, Adams declined to say whether the city is moving ahead with the plans when asked about the possibility of tent encampments in the city but said New Yorkers will begin to see “visual signs of this crisis” like other cities such as Chicago and Los Angeles that have seen a large influx of asylum-seekers.
“Everything is on the table. We are out of room, and it’s not if people will be sleeping on the streets, it’s when,” the Democrat told reporters at a briefing. “We are at full capacity.”
He said city authorities have contacted emergency management officials in other countries to learn how they deal with large-scale tent encampments.
‘We’re finding out what are our options,” Adams said. “Believe it or not, tents are costly. Everything is costly.”
New York is the only major U.S. city that has a right-to-shelter law. Adams is asking a state judge to temporarily suspend the requirement amid the surge of migrants.
Gov. Kathy Hochul has thrown her support behind the effort to temporarily suspend the law.
The Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless, challenging Adams’ plan to limit shelter stays, criticized the possibility that the city could allow people to sleep in tents “on the street” in the winter.
“Make no mistake, when the Mayor and Governor talk about rolling back the Right to Shelter, this is what they mean: relegating desperate people – long-time New Yorkers and newcomers alike – to sleeping on sidewalks, in parks, and in other public spaces across the city, exposed to the element,” the groups said in a joint statement.
More than 80% of New Yorkers said the recent influx of migrants was a serious problem and agreed with Adams’ controversial remarks that the crisis will “destroy New York City,” according to a Siena College poll released this week.