By Chris Sommerfeldt, published January 26, 2024

Two City Council leaders called on Mayor Adams’ administration Friday to open up more migrant “reticketing centers” amid concern over newly arrived asylum seekers sleeping outside the city’s only such site due to overcrowding.

Adult migrants who still need shelter after being told to leave due to the mayor’s 30-day restriction are directed to reapply for a bed at the existing reticketing center, which operates out of the old St. Brigid School in the East Village.

But due to a large demand for beds, some migrants have ended up sleeping outside the center while in line — and Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Councilwoman Carlina Rivera, who chairs the Cultural Affairs Committee, sent a letter to the Adams administration Friday demanding it open multiple new reticketing sites.

“The city can ensure people do not stand on line in the cold without access to even basic facilities like bathrooms … Currently, having one reticketing center has not only led to physical capacity concerns, it has created a burden on the adjacent local community and its public spaces,” Rivera and the speaker wrote in the letter, which was addressed to Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol and obtained by the Daily News.

Rivera, whose district includes St. Brigid, said LESReady!, a nonprofit, has identified four potential sites across the East Village and the Lower East Side that could be turned into reticketing centers “pending the city’s approval.”

She and the speaker said there should ideally be at least one reticketing site in every borough, though.

“This model is clearly unsustainable and is fueling public scrutiny of a humanitarian decline occurring in a city that values its identity as a beacon to immigrants,” they wrote to Iscol. “We must act quickly and compassionately in creating a better system for the thousands of people coming to St. Brigid’s for assistance. We urge you to open additional centers and create space for families in need.”

A City Hall spokesperson said in a statement the administration looks forward to reviewing the letter.

“We appreciate the speaker and councilmembers’ suggestion and their recognition that our administration’s strategies for managing this national crisis are working,” the spokesperson said. “Since opening the reticketing center last fall, we have worked to foster a welcoming and safe environment for asylum seekers, community residents, and visitors – identifying accommodations for people and addressing quality-of-life concerns as they arise.”

A spokesperson from Emergency Management did not respond to a request for comment.

The shelter stay policy restricts single adult migrants to 30 consecutive days before they must reapply. The mayor has also placed migrant families with children on a 60-day shelter limit.

A growing chorus of local Democratic elected officials and advocates have blasted the shelter restrictions, saying they are inhumane and threaten to worsen street homelessness in the city. Earlier this month, The News spotted more than 1,000 migrants lining up in front of the St. Brigid School site to reapply for shelter.

The mayor has countered that the restrictions are needed to ensure there’s shelter capacity as thousands of migrants continue to arrive in the city every month. City Hall says more than 50% of migrants who are removed from their shelter assignments do not reapply for beds, though it hasn’t provided data on where exactly those individuals go.

There are still nearly 70,000 mostly Latin American migrants sleeping in city shelters every night, according to Adams’ office. The city has spent more $3 billion to date on housing and services for migrants since the influx first started in spring 2022.

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