NEW YORK -- Tents and small houses in Central Park may be used to temporarily shelter asylum seekers in New York City, CBS2 has learned.
City Hall sources said the plan, outlined in an internal document, could be implemented if border towns continue sending asylum seekers and hotel space runs out.
As it is, the city's latest temporary housing solution is unpopular with some in the NYPD. That's because the police academy in Manhattan is now sheltering migrants, raising security concerns.
Video from Thursday night shows asylum seekers getting off buses on the East Side and entering the latest temporary migrant shelter, the former police academy, where the city says they're expected to house hundreds for a short period.
Though the NYPD's active academy is in Queens, the facility is still used by some ranks of the department. For example, an NYPD source told CBS2 screening new recruits now has to be done somewhere else.
The same source said 95 migrants are currently there and being kept in the academy gym, not separated by sex.
PBA President Patrick Lynch released the following statement:
"Yet another societal problem has landed in New York City police officers' laps, and the 'solution' is terrible for everyone involved. It is a significant security risk to house civilians in an active, working police facility, which means a large contingent of police officers will need to be posted there for both the safety of the migrants and the security of the building. It's a waste of resources and a frankly inhumane arrangement. This decision need to be rethought."
The city said the number of asylum seekers that arrived over the last year is approaching 60,000, and the city has spent more than $1 billion on those that have already made it to New York.
A pandemic-era policy known as Title 42 expires next week. It has allowed officials to deny entry and return migrants to Mexico immediately.
The city fears Title 42's expiration will further overwhelm the housing plan, which is already low on options, and it could push officials to consider using tents and small structures inside Central Park, according to CBS2's Marcia Kramer.
When asked if the city is considering housing asylum seekers in Central Park, a spokesperson for Mayor Eric Adams said:
"While we do not discuss internal deliberations, we've been clear that the burden of caring for asylum seekers shouldn't fall on any one city alone. We have reached our limit of new shelters that we can open right now, and we currently have no other option but to temporarily house recent arrivals in gyms. This week alone, we received hundreds of asylum seekers every day, and with Title 42 set to be lifted next week, we expect more to arrive in our city daily. We are considering a multitude of options, but, as we've been saying for a year, we desperately need federal and state support to manage this crisis."
Adams continued asking the federal government for funding this week.
"It's the irresponsibility of the White House for not addressing this problem," said Adams.
"The federal government is allowing this to happen. We are calling on the federal government to intervene now," said Miguel Castro, commissioner of the New York City Office of Immigrant Affairs.
Adams said the migrants coming from the Texas border, like those that arrived at the Port Authority on Wednesday, are part of a political message from politicians like Texas Gov. Greg Abbott.
"No one should use human beings as political pawns," said Adams.
But Josh Goldfein, from the Legal Aid Society, says the city can make room.
"There are tens of thousands of New Yorkers who have been in shelters since even before the migrants started coming, and those folks with a housing voucher that works for them can move of shelter and into permanent housing," Goldfein said.
Friday, Adams announced a plan to send male migrants to two towns outside the city: Orange Lake in Orange County and Orangeburg in Rockland County.
Rockland County released a statement saying the county is already overwhelmed with migrants and demanding Adams not continue with the plan, which came without warning. A rep from the mayor's office says the migrants will be covered with services for up to four months with no cost to Rockland County.
"The city has purposely avoided talking to me about the migrant issue," said Rockland County Executive Ed Day. "New York City is a sanctuary city by choice. This is the mayor's choice. Now he's sending busloads of people to a county that does not have the infrastructure to care for them. I liken it to throwing somebody into the middle of the ocean with nowhere to swim. This is not even a thought out plan. There was no meetings whatsoever with anybody in my county about how this is gonna work and this needs to be withdrawn by the mayor."
Adams said, without federal help or funding, he and the city are forced to undertake their own decompression strategy.
"What [Adams is] doing here is atrocious, it's hurtful and it's insulting to the entire state of New York, not just Rockland County. Other counties will be next," Day said.
Friday night, mattresses were being moved into the Armoni Hotel in Orangeburg.
"I'm fine with people coming here, but I think we should've been given a heads up about what was going on," one Rockland County resident said.
"We're taking on the burden of people without jobs, without homes, without income, without any means to support themselves," Rockland County resident Scott Stout said.
The mayor applied for $350 million from FEMA to help with food, shelter and health services, but on Friday, Adams announced the city will only be getting $30.5 million. U.S. Rep. Dan Goldman, whose district includes parts of Manhattan and Brooklyn, called that amount "woefully insufficient."