(The Center Square) New York City Mayor Eric Adams has unveiled a plan to house migrants in churches and other houses of worship — and private residences — as the city grapples with an influx of thousands of asylum seekers.
Under the two-year partnership with New York Disaster Interfaith Services, which was unveiled on Monday, the city will authorize up to 50 houses of worship or other faith-based sites to offer overnight shelter for up to 19 single adult men at each location, Adams said.
“Not only will this increase the space we have by nearly 1,000 beds, but it will also connect asylum seekers with local communities,” Adams said in remarks. “New York City continues to do all that we can to address this crisis, but we need additional assistance from other partners.”
The city will also open five centers to provide “programming and support” for asylum seekers during the day, Adams said, which would allow churches and houses of worship to resume their normal activities at the locations.
Adams is also appealing to average New Yorkers to take migrants into their private residences, pitching it as a way to help the city and themselves during tough economic times.
“There are residents who are suffering right now because of economic challenges,” Adams said at Monday’s briefing. “They have spare rooms.”
The hunt for housing comes as Republican governors have sent thousands of migrants to New York and Democrat-led cities in protest of federal immigration policies at the U.S.-Mexico border and following the lapse of pandemic-era Title 42 policy.
New York City has taken more than 42,000 asylum-seekers to date, Adams said, which has cost the city more than $1.2 billion. The city expects to spend more than $4 billion caring for migrants over the next two years.
Adams said Monday the new housing plans would put that taxpayer money “back in the pockets of everyday New Yorkers, everyday houses of worship, instead of putting it in the pockets of corporations.”
The massive influx of migrants has pushed the city’s homeless shelter system to the brink, and for weeks Adams has been searching for alternatives to provide temporary housing.
Several weeks ago, he unveiled plans to relocate hundreds of migrants upstate by temporarily housing them in hotels in Republican-led counties. However, that has met with fierce pushback from county leaders who have declared states of emergency and filed a lawsuit seeking to block it.
Meanwhile, a proposal to temporarily house migrants in the city’s public schools was abandoned after pushback from parents who argued it would compromise public safety.
Adams has criticized President Joe Biden, a fellow Democrat, for lack of action to deal with the crisis along the southern border and called for more federal funding and expedited authorization allowing migrants to work legally. But he has also criticized Republicans for being unwilling to work with Democrats on a solution to the immigration crisis.
“This influx of asylum seekers is a serious crisis, one that New York City is facing largely on our own,” Adams said Monday. “It’s unfair and it’s not right that New York is going through this.”