New York City officials are moving ahead with a plan to open a sprawling tent shelter to house 1,000 migrant men at a parking lot on the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center campus in Queens, officials confirmed Wednesday.
At a press conference at City Hall, Zach Iscol, the commissioner of New York City Emergency Management, said they hoped to be able to open the new shelter by early August.
Another proposal to erect a second 1,000-person tent structure at Aqueduct Racetrack has been nixed due to fire safety concerns and the fact that the state needs the parking lot back by early September for race season, Iscol confirmed.
New York state owns the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center and is expected to reimburse the city for the cost of the building and running the new shelter, according to Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom.
The plan to build a large-scale migrant shelter on the campus of Creedmoor has been met by pushback from local elected officials who have voiced concerns about the site being so far away from public transit.
Immigrant and homeless rights activists have repeatedly decried the city’s use of sprawling, barracks-style facilities to house migrants. The city opened and closed similar tent shelters on Orchard Beach and Randalls Island in the fall, when a surge of asylum-seekers first started arriving in New York City.
“Queens will always open its arms to any and all people wishing to seek refuge and build a better life here,” said Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, who is calling for the city to set up a community advisory board to address neighborhood concerns with residents of the shelter as they arise.
“The success of this effort hinges upon an efficient, constant channel of communication between the state, city and borough, as well as a community-informed decision making process around ensuring the needs of our asylum-seekers are met and the concerns of area residents are heard,” he added.
The move to open another large-scale facility to house migrants comes as the city’s shelter system is bursting at the seams. More than 107,300 people were staying in city shelters as of Monday night, more than double what the shelter population was when Mayor Eric Adams took office in January 2022. Among them, 56,200 are asylum-seekers, according to the city’s count, living scattered across 192 hotels, shelters, empty office buildings, church basements, gymnasiums and other improvised settings all across the five boroughs.
A shelter opened inside an empty office complex in Clinton Hill earlier this month is expected to become the largest shelter in the city’s history, with the stated capacity of 2,000 people.