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World’s Richest City Says ‘No More Room’ Left For Desperate Migrants

Above Photo: Migrants sleeping on the street outside the Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown Manhattan.

New York City’s Mayor Eric Adams tells migrants fleeing violence and poverty “We have no more room in the city.”

For the first few days of August, migrants seeking asylum from around the world converged outside a hotel in Midtown Manhattan, waiting for shelter openings. Around 200 migrants coming from countries such as Mauritania, Ecuador, Chad, Venezuela, Burundi, Peru, and Colombia resorted to sleeping outside on the city streets as they were denied entry into the overcrowded hotel. The city cleared the migrants and moved them using MTA buses to different city shelters on August 3.

New York City has a unique “right to shelter” law, which means that the city is legally required to provide shelter to those who ask. For over a year, large numbers of migrants seeking asylum have been traveling to the city voluntarily, or in some cases bused in by anti-immigrant lawmakers in other states who oppose NYC’s right to shelter approach. Migrants are escaping violence in their countries, or economic warfare waged by the United States, such as the Venezuelan migrants escaping the effects of US sanctions on the socialist nation.

As a result, the city’s homeless population has nearly doubled. Now, over 100,000 people sleep in New York’s shelters.

On Wednesday, Eric Adams told press that “We have no more room in the city” for more migrants. This is in line with what he said during a press conference on Monday: “There is no more room.” He also said on Monday, “From this moment on, it’s downhill.”

New York City is a bastion of extreme wealth. It is the city with the most billionaires, with a net worth totalling USD 616 billion. There are 737 residents with over one hundred million dollars to their names, and 345,600 millionaires. According to the South China Morning Post, the “total private wealth held by the city’s residents exceeds USD 3 trillion—higher than the total private wealth held in most major G20 countries.” New York boasts some of the world’s richest neighborhoods. Apartments on Fifth Avenue (in walking distance from the Roosevelt Hotel) can exceed USD 301,000 per square foot.

These millionaires and billionaires are infamously undertaxed. It’s clear that New York City can reap more money for resources from these residents.

Some point to the massive amount of housing vacancies to show that the resources are already there. In New York City, there are no laws regulating how long an apartment can be vacant for, despite the concurrent housing and migrant crises. In 2021, roughly one in ten of the city’s massive rent stabilized housing stock was vacant, constituting 88,830 apartments. As of 2021, there were 456,600 vacant units in the city. Far more than enough to house the 100,000 people sleeping in shelters. A 2021 report revealed that a large number of these vacancies (approximately 100,000 to be exact) were vacant solely because they were held for occasional use. In other words, these apartments are fully habitable, but they are warehoused as recreational properties for those who can afford it.

In response to Adams’ comments, migrants told Peoples Dispatch that the city’s bureaucracy needs to move faster. “If we get our work permit fast, that will help us to leave,” said Mohamed, a young man who made the dangerous journey all the way from Mauritania to wait for housing outside the Roosevelt Hotel. “Without a work permit, you cannot do anything.”

Mohamed arrived to The Roosevelt after most of the migrants had been cleared from the area, and did not have to sleep on the streets. But he believes that might be in his future. “Maybe we will sleep outside. Because they say that we have only two months to stay in the shelter. So after two months, where are we gonna go? We don’t have a work permit, we don’t have anything.”

“The American government needs to change this system, cause a lot of migrants suffer here,” said Emma, a young man who migrated from Chad to escape violence. “A lot of migrants suffer here. You don’t have work, you don’t have anything.”

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