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Morning Spew

Eric Adams Might Just Have a Bold New Solution to Shelter Migrants: Tents

And some more humane links for your Thursday.

9:22 AM EDT on October 26, 2023

Mayor Eric Adams holds an in-person media availability on Tuesday, October 24, 2023. (Ed Reed / Mayoral Photography Office)

Mayor Eric Adams is fond of saying there's no more room in the inn for migrants. On Tuesday, he repeated that refrain at his weekly Q&A with journalists, saying, "We are out of room, and it's not if people will be sleeping on the streets, it’s when. We are at full capacity."

He issued a warning: "I want to be clear, the visual signs of this crisis in this city, people are going to start to see it." 

What exactly did Adams mean by the "visual signs of this crisis"? He didn't quite say, but did note, "When we reach that point, we need to manage it, that it is not a citywide visual state of chaos. We have to sort of localize it as much as possible, we have to make sure that people have some type of restroom facilities, some type of shower network." 

"We're going to have to find large spaces," he continued, "outdoor spaces, whatever space we can find." After all that, he added, "We're going to do it as humane as possible."

Did he, a reporter asked, mean the City would be building new tent cities, or HERCs, of the sort that are now on Randalls Island?  

"We're spanning the globe, and we are tapping into international people, and we're finding out what are our options," he replied. "Because believe it or not, tents are costly."

"All options are on the table," Deputy Mayor of Communications Fabien Levy, who is paid a $250,000 annual salary, said. 

On Wednesday, we learned more about what Adams was hinting at—the Wall Street Journal reported that "New York City officials have discussed distributing tents to newly arriving migrants and creating encampments in parks and other outdoor spaces," and that "discussions about designating campsites began over the summer." According to the New York Post, the "possible new plan would be more like campground sites in parks and other outdoor spaces."

What exactly is happening here, given that the mayor famously hates homeless encampments, which sure sound like the exact type of situation he and his administration are exploring putting migrants in? It's hard not to see this as part of his broader strategy of making life as difficult as possible for people fleeing hardship, in hopes of dissuading people from coming to New York City in the first place. 

In response, the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless criticized this potential plan. 

"Passing out tents as winter approaches is not only a mockery of the City's legal and moral obligation to provide safe shelter to people without homes, but it will put lives in danger," they wrote in a statement. "People freezing to death on the streets is the exact nightmare that the right to shelter was designed to prevent."

They added, "Make no mistake, when the mayor and governor talk about rolling back the right to shelter, this is what they mean: relegating desperate people—long-time New Yorkers and newcomers alike—to sleeping on sidewalks, in parks, and in other public spaces across the city, exposed to the elements."

"It's absurd that the Adams administration would rather pursue dangerous ideas like street tent encampments, when he could be alleviating pressure on our shelter system by getting more New Yorkers into permanent housing,” Murad Awawdeh, the executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, told the Wall Street Journal.

And more humane links: 

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