New York authorities believe the tents in Central Park are for housing migrants


May 9, 2023 | 2:13 p.m

City officials are considering using Big Apple landmarks like the Flatiron Building and hangers at JFK International Airport to house arriving migrants if the crisis worsens.

Senior city officials told The Post that the sites were part of a brainstorming session to address Thursday’s Title 42 leak.

Officials said no decisions have been made, adding that the locations are some of many being considered.

Sources said a team of officials from Gov. Kathy Hochul’s government in Albany, as well as a team from City Hall, inspected facilities at JFK, which is controlled by the Port Authority and is one of the nation’s busiest air hubs. It is not clear if they found a place in the Idlewild complex to use.

Hochul said he is working with the mayor to find more space in the city, including on state property, and is “talking to other counties that are interested in having people come.”

Meanwhile, a report published by CNN lists other eye-catching proposals — including Central Park in Manhattan, Prospect Park in Brooklyn and Flushing Meadows Corona Park in Queens — as potential sites for emergency housing.

However, sources warned that no plans have yet been drawn up to use public parks and that this would be an extremely logistical challenge. Officials will have to build tent structures and then find ways to bring in electricity and plumbing for toilets and showers.

Central Park has been listed as a potential site. A picture shows the emergency tent hospital set up in the park to treat the overflow of Covid patients in April 2020.
Edmund Jay Coppa
City Hall officials asked landmarks like the Flatiron Building if they had room to house newly arrived migrants.
Imago via ZUMA Press

The owner of the Flatiron Building told The New York Times that he was contacted by city officials looking for space, though they quickly realized the building could not accommodate residents in its current gutted state.

The flurry of events comes just days after The Post revealed that Adams Chief of Staff Camille Joseph Warlak sent a desperate plea to all city agencies on Sunday, asking them to identify a potential place to house migrants.

“With more and more asylum seekers arriving every day, this flow has brought our shelter system to breaking point and we need to create emergency temporary accommodation,” wrote Joseph Warlak.
“We ask that city agencies conduct an internal review of any properties or spaces in your portfolio that may be available to be repurposed to accommodate asylum seekers as temporary shelters. If there is current programming, please turn on that programming.”

Agencies were instructed to focus on facilities they already operate and can easily be adapted to provide shelter. They had to hand over the list of places they had identified as possible safe havens by 5pm on Monday.

Migrants arriving at the former NYPD academy in Manhattan to spend the night on May 5, 2023.
Christopher Sadowski

At least one shelter is already up and running in a converted facility — the gymnasium at the former police academy on 20th Street in Manhattan, which was filled with cots to provide temporary emergency shelter over the weekend.

But the effort quickly came under fire from homeless advocates, who accused city officials of violating court agreements that guarantee basic safety measures by housing families with children alongside single adults at the gym temporarily because of space limitations in the shelter system.

The wave of arrivals has so far brought nearly 61,000 migrants to the five regions. More than 37,000 of them live in city-run or funded shelters, which will cost the city about $4.3 billion in 2023 and 2024 alone, Adams said.

Migrant shelter in the gym of the former police academy.
The city is also exploring places like the Aqueduct Runway and John F. Kennedy Airport for possible migrant shelters.

Most of the migrants are fleeing political violence and economic instability in South and Central America, hardships they hope will make them eligible for asylum.

The Department of Homeless Services operates 126 emergency shelters – usually outside hotels – throughout the city; The Health and Hospitals Corporation opened eight more barrack-style facilities to provide beds and social services for the migrants.

The number of emergency shelters jumped by just 14 in the twelve-day period that ran from April 26 to May 8, city statistics show.

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