NYC Makes Room for South American Migrants

By Jason Curtis Anderson

As New York City recovers from the trifecta of Covid, crime, and shutting down our economy, we now have an entirely new crisis to deal with – becoming the social safety net for all of South America.

Back when Joe Biden was campaigning for President, he was extremely vocal about his plans to immediately reverse the barbaric immigration policy of former President Trump. Biden’s plan included easing immigration controls, a moratorium on deportations, and the bold claim that not one more foot of border wall would be constructed during his administration.

The Row Hotel in Midtown is slated to soon house 600 migrant families. Photo by Jason Curtis Anderson.
The Row Hotel in Midtown is slated to soon house 600 migrant families. Photo by Jason Curtis Anderson.

These policies have consequences, and for NYC—those consequences have finally arrived. In our case, by the busload.

Recently Mayor Adams held a press conference stating that 2,800 migrants have entered the city’s shelter system in a matter of several weeks. He then explained how this large group poses unique challenges, and that we do not have the resources in place to handle an influx this large. If you follow his logic, it makes sense because midtown is technically still a business district and not a South American FEMA site (or at least, not yet). These people need food, shelter, and assistance getting their children into our school system, and requiring translators adds an extra step to the entire process.

Processing the first group of 2,800 migrant arrivals was a task so difficult that it prompted Mayor Adams to publicly call on President Biden for assistance.

For those that don’t know, NYC has what’s called a “right to shelter” (otherwise known as the Callahan decree) and also claims to be a proud sanctuary city, both of which are applicable to NYC but not NY State. By our own design, NYC has a legal obligation to take these people in or risk being sued (on their behalf) by the Legal Aid Society.

On August 8th, the City Council held an emergency hearing to discuss the migrant crisis. During the meeting, the City Council stated that our homeless shelters are at 1% vacancy, a roundabout way of saying 100% full. The City Council then explained how they will need to work with the Comptroller to expedite the process of freeing up money for the homeless nonprofits to house these migrants immediately, and without community input.

Within 48 hours, the city then leased 11 hotels to house the migrants (now up to 14), but after two months it now appears the arrivals have no end in sight. One recent report said the US Southern border saw 200,000 migrants in July alone, proving our influx reflects only a small fraction of what’s to come.

Only 24 hours after the city leased the 11 hotels, another report showed we will also lease a 1,200 room hotel in Times Square to house 600 migrant families. Two days later, another report showed that Mayor Adams is looking for another 5,000 hotel rooms for migrants as the demand for housing proves to be infinite.

If what you just read sounds crazy, that’s because it is. NYC has taken in over 6,000 migrants and is now positioning itself to take in the next 5,000.

Any rough analysis drawn on the back of a napkin shows the migrant crisis will cost the city untold billions of dollars, any which way you cut it.

Let’s say that the city decides to shell out the standard $1,945 to give them section 8 housing. That would mean the city would pay $140M per year (forever) to house the 4,000 migrants that arrived this summer alone. If homeless nonprofits lease hotel rooms for $300 per room it would costs $658M per year to house this same group. As the majority of our hotel industry is concentrated in Midtown and Fidi, we will now see if these neighborhoods are up for the challenge of successfully juggling two extremely different roles:

Continuing to serve as the pillars of New York’s economy and serving as the new home of South America’s homeless population.

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