Monday, June 5, 2023
Mostly cloudy. High 76 degrees.
Our calendar has lots of local events! Click on the link or the lady in the upper righthand corner to check.
There will be a Full Community Board 7 Meeting on Tuesday, June 6, 2023 at 6:30pm. To see the agenda, click here. Following are the links to: Register for the meeting | Sign-Up to speak | Download the Proposed Resolutions.
By Carol Tannenhauser
I am an immigrant to New York City from the suburbs. For me, the “old country” is Long Island. So it is with consternation that I witness the way my “homeland,” and other parts of New York beyond the city, have been reacting to calls for more affordable housing and for taking in newly-arrived migrants. It seems they don’t want either – or at least, their politicians don’t.
First, in April, they put up (and won) a fight that threatened to derail the state budget process, by refusing to consider building affordable housing along their commuter corridors. “We don’t want to be the sixth borough of Manhattan,” was one way the argument was framed. This is nothing new. “By one measure,” reported The New York Times, “Westchester County and Suffolk and Nassau Counties on Long Island have allowed fewer homes to be built per person in the past decade than the regions around nearly every other major U.S. city, including Boston, San Francisco and Washington.”
This has contributed to a statewide housing shortage, which Gov. Kathy Hochul was trying to address through the budget before the suburbs stonewalled her. She ended up abandoning the effort, after confronting what the Times described as “a history of segregation in suburban communities, which in many cases were designed to exclude Black people.”
Then there’s the migrant question. Around 61,000 asylum seekers, most of them from Latin America, have arrived in New York City since last spring. The city’s longstanding “right-to-shelter” policy means New York has a legal obligation to offer them housing. And for a while, Mayor Eric Adams kept that policy front and center. “I gotta say it’s pretty impressive how many shelters they have opened up so quickly,” said Robert Hayes, the lawyer who won homeless people the right to shelter back in the late 1970s and 80s.
But in mid-May, Adams said the city had reached the limits of its largesse; there was no more room, and the cost of sheltering had topped $4 billion. He asked that the wording of the city’s right to shelter policy be changed to permit the city to deny shelter to homeless adults (but not families with children) if it “lacks the resources and capacity to establish and maintain sufficient shelter sites, staffing, and security to provide safe and appropriate shelter.” He devised a plan to send a few hundred migrants to hotels in two suburban counties north of the city — Rockland and Orange — at the city’s expense.
“We are not equipped to humanely assist these individuals,” Rockland County Executive Ed Day said, while declaring a state of emergency and vowing “to impose fines to stop the city’s plan to put migrants up at hotels in the county,” the Associated Press reported.
And Orange County Executive Steven M. Neuhaus “ordered all hotels, motels and short-term rental facilities not to accept any migrants as he declared a state of emergency,” according to the AP.
I might have hoped that the closed-door attitude of these politicians would stir some sort of backlash from others, to welcome the migrants. But not a single New York City suburb — or any other city, town, or village in the state — stepped up and said, “sure, we’ll take a couple of hundred people to help out. New York City has been amazing!”
It’s not too late…the migrants are still coming, drawn by the promise of safety and jobs…and, yes, in New York City, of shelter and compassion.
But only, for the time being, in New York City.