NYC Considers Using Flatiron Building, Other Iconic Properties To House Migrants

The idea of migrants living in Central Park evoked images of New York City during the Great Depression, when the park was home to a ‘Hooverville.’
New York City's iconic Flatiron building.

As New York City officials scramble to cope with thousands of migrants arriving from border states, they are reportedly considering converting such landmarks as the Flatiron Building into temporary housing to accommodate the influx.

The iconic building came into focus after city officials on Monday asked the New York real estate industry for help in housing the migrants. Officials asked landlords to consider allowing empty buildings to be used for temporary housing for migrants ahead of the surge expected when Title 42 ends on Thursday.

With the end of this pandemic-era provision that allows for the expulsion of asylum seekers from America, authorities are expecting a surge in immigration. By some estimates, 150,000 migrants are waiting for the provision to expire in order to enter the country.

“We’re closely monitoring the situation as the lifting of Title 42 approaches,” the mayor’s office told the Sun in a statement. “We’ve already seen an increase of asylum seekers arriving in recent days, opening ten new shelters in the past week and seeing close to 500 asylum seekers entering our care on some days. For nearly a year, New York City has managed this national crisis alone — we need our federal and state partners to step up now.”

The owner of the Flatiron building told the New York Times that he was contacted by city officials asking whether his building could be used to house migrants, though he quickly explained that it was not in a suitable condition to do so.

A confidential memo obtained by CBS News New York reported that the city is anticipating 800 new arrivals every day beginning after the emergency pandemic provision expires. The city is expecting the number of migrants that have arrived in the city to increase to more than 100,000 from 61,000 by the next fiscal year.

The memo also showed that the city was considering a variety of options, such as renovating existing rent-stabilized apartments, housing migrants temporarily on cruise ships or in public schools, using federal installations like Fort Dix, and shutting down streets to erect shelters.

The city also floated the idea of housing migrants in Central Park, the Park Slope Armory, and in hangars at John F. Kennedy Airport, according to a separate memo obtained by CNN.

The idea of migrants living in a tent city in Central Park evoked images of New York City during the Great Depression, when the park was home to a “Hooverville,” one of the tent cities erected by homeless and out-of-work Americans across the country.

Mr. Adams announced last week that his administration is planning to ship migrants to neighboring communities in New York, where they will stay in hotels as a “decompression strategy.”

“Despite calling on the federal government for a national decompression strategy since last year, and for a decompression strategy across the state, New York City has been left without the necessary support to manage this crisis,” Mr. Adams said.

Since the announcement, though, a court order has blocked the plan to move migrants upstate. Judge Christine D’Alessio of the Rockland Supreme Court temporarily blocked the plan, ruling it in violation of a land-use permit.

The decision came after local pushback to the city’s plan, with critics like the Rockland County executive, Ed Day, arguing the communities were not equipped to house the migrants. “There is nothing humanitarian about a Sanctuary City sending busloads of people to a County that does not have the infrastructure to care for them,” an indignant Mr. Day said over the weekend.

Mr. Adams’s administration has estimated that housing the migrants will cost as much as $4.3 billion through the end of the next fiscal year. The Independent Budget Office, though, found that the administration overestimated the cost by about $1.2 billion over that time period.

The New York Sun

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