Mayor Adams went on the offensive Monday against critics who blasted his plan to use a cruise ship terminal to accommodate thousands of migrants who’ve flowed into the city, chiding them for minimizing the extent of the crisis.
“I don’t believe a lot of people are fully comprehending this is a crisis,” he said during an unrelated press event in the Bronx. “We utilized ships during COVID-19. People forgot that. We used ships to house people. We opened tents in Central Park during COVID-19. We had trailers in front of hospitals because the morgues were overwhelmed. When there’s a crisis, you must use all your tools.
“And right now, we are in a crisis — this moment,” he added. “And so when people analyze what we should do under normal circumstances, I respect that. But what I need for them to do is analyze how do you respond during a crisis?”
Adams was responding to criticisms over his announcement Saturday to use the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal to house 1,000 single men relocated from another relief center along with newly arrived asylum seekers.
Since last spring, more than 41,000 migrants have come to the city, the vast majority of them from Central and South America.
But the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless said the new relief center in Brooklyn may not be the best way to go about addressing the issue.
“Not only do we have concerns with the Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers’ ability to comply with the city’s Right to Shelter obligations, but the forthcoming HERRC at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal announced today is also in a high-risk flood zone, according to the city’s own maps, and will needlessly expose future residents to the elements during some of the coldest months of the year,” the groups said Saturday in a joint statement.
“Instead of wasting more taxpayer dollars on HERRCs and jeopardizing the safety of migrants in need of relief, the city must utilize existing voucher programs, such as CityFHEPS, to help homeless New Yorkers move into permanent housing, thereby allowing shelters to accommodate new entrants.”
On Monday, Adams said that the city is “compliant” with right-to-shelter law and that if there are cases where it isn’t, “we’re hoping that the advocates will bring it to our attention.”
He then attempted to put the onus of the conversation on groups like Legal Aid and Coalition for the Homeless.
“Did any of those advocates write to the federal government to get the funding that we need?” he asked. “So for us to talk about those who are doing right, I want to know: All those who are critiquing my administration, show me the letter that you sent to the federal government saying this is wrong what you’re doing to New Yorkers.”