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Hochul updates New Yorkers on state's ongoing efforts to shelter and support asylum seekers


Mon, Aug 14th 2023 03:25 pm

As part of $1 billion commitment, Hochul advances $250 million to New York City to reimburse costs from asylum seeker aid

√ Governor will deploy additional National Guard personnel to Erie County to provide logistical and operational support for shelter sites

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Saturday updated New Yorkers on “the state’s ongoing efforts to support asylum seekers, help them find shelter, and connect them with critical social services as they arrive in New York.” This includes $250 million in funding already sent to New York City, “progress resulting from continued advocacy with the federal government, and additional National Guard deployments.”

"Since asylum seekers first arrived in New York, we have been providing significant humanitarian aid as New York City works to meet their legal obligation to provide shelter," Hochul said. "We will continue our efforts to provide financial support, personnel and equipment, and continued advocacy for federal assistance.”

As a part of the $1 billion in funding Hochul secured in the fiscal year 2024 state budget, the governor advanced $250 million to New York City to reimburse their costs; this financial support will continue as NYC continues to make additional financial expenditures. The $250 million payment will be used to financially support Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers (HERRC), sanctuary sites and respite renters, as well as welcome, intake and navigation centers that provide immediate assistance to asylum seekers.

Funding in the budget provides a 29% reimbursement to New York City for allowable costs associated with operating these programs. Eligible costs include, but are not limited to:

√ Staffing, security, maintenance and cleaning

√ Critical social services provided at program sites

√ Shelter costs, food and personal supplies or services (such as clothing, linens, hygiene items, beds, diapers, laundry services, etc.)

√ Transportation and Interpretation services

√ IT supplies and support

A $25 million investment was included in the budget to voluntarily relocate 1,250 families – approximately 4,375 individuals – who have already applied for asylum; this funding is in addition to more than $700 million in the budget allocated for temporary shelter at hotels and mass shelter sites. At this time, 17 families who are willing to participate and eligible to participate have been identified by the city and are in this state-funded program and the state will continue to support relocation for additional families as they opt into the program. Participants in this program, who are on the path to work authorization in the U.S., will be relocated and matched with social service agencies who can help them adjust and resettle while NYS pays for their rent.

In addition to Hochul's meeting with Tom Perez, senior adviser and assistant to President Joe Biden, her team said, “federal officials have increased their assistance to New York in recent weeks following months of advocacy from Gov. Hochul and local leaders. State, federal and city officials toured federally owned sites at Floyd Bennett Field and Fort Wadsworth to assess their suitability for sheltering asylum seekers.”

Hochul administration officials were set to meet with U.S. Department of Interior officials to discuss federally owned land that could be appropriate to use as shelter.

Hochul also announced the deployment of additional New York National Guard personnel and assets to asylum seeker sites in Erie County.

Her team said, “The deployment to Erie County builds on more than 1,800 National Guard personnel who are currently providing logistical and operational support to shelters in New York City. More than 30 of the hotel-based shelter sites in New York City are staffed exclusively by New York State National Guard personnel, and an additional 18 are primarily staffed through these state personnel.”

A shelter site on state-owned land at Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens will open this week and will have the capacity to house up to 1,000 asylum seekers. A shelter site that is fully paid for by the state of New York will open shortly on Randall's Island. The state has already loaned New York City sites at the former Lincoln Correctional Facility in Manhattan and at a state-owned building at JFK Airport in Queens, both of which opened in June and house more than 1,000 asylum seekers every day.

Erie County

On Sunday, Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz released this statement regarding a recent incident that took place inside of a hotel in the town of Cheektowaga that involved an asylum seeker who previously arrived in Erie County via New York City:

"Yesterday afternoon, I was advised of a serious incident involving an asylum seeker being housed at a Cheektowaga hotel. As was described by Cheektowaga Police Chief Brian Gould, a suspect is now in custody.

“I thank Chief Gould and his team with the Cheektowaga Police Department for their quick response to this matter, as well as the team from Erie County District Attorney John Flynn’s Office for their work with the investigation.

“Since the incident occurred, I have been in contact with New York state Gov. Kathy Hochul, New York State Department of Homeland Security and Emergency Services Commissioner Jackie Bray and New York City Mayor Eric Adams, among others. All agree the alleged incident is reprehensible and the safety of the community is paramount.

“I demanded that Mayor Adams pause all further transportation of asylum seekers to our community until such time as we can resolve all security issues. He agreed and informed me they will not send any additional persons to Erie County at this time.

“We also discussed the need for a new and improved security plan, especially considering DocGo, the third party hired by New York City to run the hotel operations, may have interfered with this investigation. Mayor Adams agreed that we need to address all security concerns with the hotels. We have already begun discussing ways to increase security and reduce any threat to our community.

“One such way has already been agreed to by Gov. Hochul. The governor has agreed to place National Guard members at each of the hotels to act as a stabilizing presence. As stated to me this morning, it will take a day or two for the National Guard members to arrive, but they will soon be present.

“I thank Gov. Hochul and Commissioner Bray for offering this assistance to further assure that the safety of the entire community comes first.

“Additionally, I joined Chief Gould in calling for the closure of the Dingens Street facility and for full reimbursement by New York City to the Town of Cheektowaga for all costs associated with securing these hotels. We were not advised of the placement of asylum seekers in the Dingens Street hotel until it occurred. It is not a suitable location and should be closed.
As we have done for years, Erie County opened its arms to try and welcome these new Americans.

“Unfortunately, there is no way to make the program as presently run sustainable. Two serious, violent crimes in two weeks are two too many.

“Our refugee agencies did their best to provide support and assistance, but our community's trust and good faith have been betrayed. We were assured of safety, security and proper screening. Clearly that hasn't been done. Refugee agencies, local workers, and others should not and cannot work under the present security conditions. New York City needs to fix this.

“Erie County will continue to welcome refugees and those seeking shelter under the traditional programs, just as we have for years. These recent incidents shouldn't color attitudes toward our New American neighbors.

“Finally, Erie County, the Town of Cheektowaga and the state cannot solve what is essentially a federal issue. The Biden administration and the United States Congress must act on this and truly implement comprehensive immigration reform."

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