In a concerning turn of events, families with young children have reportedly been forced to sleep alongside adult single men at a makeshift shelter in New York City’s old Manhattan police academy gym, the New York Post reported. The move has been condemned by both asylum seekers and officials as unsafe.
Last week, due to the recent influx of migrants in New York City, the Mayor Eric Adams’ administration designated the former police academy building on East 20th Street as a shelter after the city reached its “limit.”
Several elementary and middle school-aged migrant children were seen coming and going from the Gramercy Park facility with their relatives on Monday, according to several reports.
While many adult men were among the first to take up residence in the rows of green cots, several migrants told The Post that there are now over a dozen young children staying there as well.
Among them, Gutierrez Yorman, a 14-year-old from Venezuela, said children are sleeping alongside non-family members inside the first-floor gym.
The safety of the children and their families, along with the larger issue of the U.S. handling the influx of asylum-seeking migrants, has raised concerns.
“I am with my family and there are strangers too,” the teenager said to the, adding that he has been at the NYPD facility for one day and doesn’t know when he and his relatives will be relocated.
During a City Council budget hearing on Monday, Department of Social Services Commissioner, Molly Park, confirmed that migrant children were being housed at the makeshift shelter in the old Manhattan police academy gym.
She stated that the agency was working to relocate the families to “alternative placements” within the next 24 to 48 hours.
However, Legal Aid lawyers and the Coalition for the Homeless criticized the decision to house families with children alongside adult single men, calling it unsafe and inappropriate.
The lawyers insisted that such a facility was “only appropriate for single adult men.” The city has stated that the shelter is meant to be a short-term overflow facility and that efforts are being made to ensure a flow of individuals in and out of the facility.
Mayor Adams announced on Friday that due to less than $31 million in federal aid for the local migrant crisis, hundreds of asylum seekers would be sent to two upstate hotels.
The move is intended to alleviate pressure on the city’s overcrowded shelter and emergency housing systems.
However, elected leaders north of the city were not pleased with the initiative, which involves housing migrants in hotels in Orange and Rockland counties.