The city’s controversial migrant tent camp on Randalls Island will soon shut down after standing largely empty since opening less than a month ago, Mayor Adams announced Thursday.
The sprawling facility — which cost city taxpayers at least $650,000 just to build — opened Oct. 19 and was supposed to house as many as 1,000 single adult male migrants and offer them a range of services.
But Adams said in a statement that the clip at which single adult Latin American males arrived in the city began to subside right around the time the tent opened. As a result, the city will “demobilize” the site next week, he said.
“We will continue to pivot and shift as necessary to deal with this humanitarian crisis, but it’s clear that we still need financial assistance from our state and federal partners,” said Adams, whose administration has largely had to tackle the financial cost of the migrant crisis on its own.
Adams said he isn’t calling it quits on the city’s migrant response altogether, though.
With the Randalls Island site shuttering, Adams said his administration is opening a new emergency facility at the four-star Watson Hotel in Midtown that will have capacity for 600 asylum seekers. That comes on top of dozens of other hotels that the city has rented to use as migrant housing since this spring.
Over the first few days of operation last month, the Daily News observed less than a dozen migrants going through intake at the Randalls tent.
City Councilwoman Diana Ayala, whose district includes Randalls, visited the facility last week and said she saw about 150 migrants staying there.
Ayala was among several Democratic Council members who initially criticized the Randalls plan, citing concerns over weather preparedness and other issues, and urged Adams to instead only house migrants in hotels and homeless shelters.
She told The News late Thursday she’s pleased Adams is finally moving to dismantle the tent. “The need is no longer there, at least not in the number that they were expecting, so it makes sense to downsize,” she said.
As of this week, more than 17,500 migrants remain in city-subsidized housing, according to Adams’ office. The migrants are fleeing violence and economic devastation in their home countries, and many ended up in New York after being sent by Republican officials in southern border states who have refused to coordinate the transports with Adams’ team.
Last month’s slowdown in migrants pouring into New York coincided with President Biden’s administration placing new limits on how Venezuelan nationals can seek asylum in the U.S. Many of the migrants in the city are from Venezuela, which has for years endured an economic crisis exacerbated by the pandemic.