Desperate migrants say they would eagerly stay at Floyd Bennett shelter

by NEW YORK DIGITAL NEWS



Desperate migrants lining up in freezing temperatures to get back into the Big Apple’s overwhelmed shelter system said they would eagerly stay at the mega makeshift tent city at Floyd Bennett Field, despite the slew of complaints — if only they were allowed.

More than 200 asylum seekers snaked around the block outside the former St. Brigid School in the East Village Thursday, the city’s sole site to re-apply for temporary housing after being booted under Mayor Eric Adams’ 30-day cap on shelter stays.

Many told The Post they would readily trek to the isolated facility, which has received complaints about the lack of heat and its remoteness.

“If there was space, everyone here would go,” Mohamed Bidjal, 22, from Mauritania, said of the Floyd Bennett Field shelter during his fourth day waiting to re-apply for housing.

“We just want a bed and a shower,” he said, adding, “I don’t have anywhere to sleep, so I’ll take whatever I can get… I would sleep on a military cot.”

Hundreds of asylum seekers have been forced to brave the cold at the new reentry site in the East Village. Kevin C. Downs for NY Post

Babacar Ndiaye, a 30-year-old from Senegal, said he heard the makeshift tent city was cold but he’d accept anything at this point.

“I am sleeping in the train station,” said 30-year-old Babacar Ndiaye from Senegal. “It is my third day here waiting for a shelter.”

There are roughly 1,400 beds available at Floyd Bennett Field, which costs New York City $1.7 million a month to run.

In addition, the city is also on the hook for another $625,000 for busing students away from the transportation desert for school this year.

Migrants have complained about the conditions at Floyd Bennett Field. REUTERS

Busloads of migrants have either refused to enter the site — which currently only has about 620 occupants, 195 of whom are kids — or decided to leave after spending a few nights.

But the thousands of empty beds are reserved only for migrant families who have just arrived in the Big Apple, City Hall has said.

Joshua Goldfein, a staff attorney at Legal Aid’s homeless rights project, said the Adams administration needs to change the rules — as city officials tell him that the greatest need right now is housing for single adults.

“So how bout they use Floyd Bennett Field for singles because it’s obviously not suited for families with kids,” he said, adding, “It’s clearly not suited for kids over the winter.”

Over the last week, hundreds of asylum seekers have been flooding East 7th Street near the former school hoping to get assigned a bed at a shelter after the city consolidated its reentry applications to one single center.

The migrants have to arrive hours before the sun comes up to get in line, with dozens deciding to sleep overnight in the frigid temps to get be first in the queue.

Khatary Rabah, 37, from Mauritania, said Thursday he’s been waiting for five days to get a bed and each night had to settle for the Bronx migrant respite center, where he said he slept on the floor. The facility also doesn’t have showers.

“There are no beds, you either sleep on a chair or on the floor,” Rabah said.

The site at Floyd Bennett Field cost $1.7 million per month. WABC

“I would stay there,” Rabah said when shown pictures of Floyd Bennett Field. “I cannot stay in the streets, it’s too cold. I need somewhere to put my stuff and get some sleep. I haven’t had a shower for five days. I’d live in a tent if it meant I could get some sleep.

“It’s my birthday on December 31 — I don’t want to celebrate my birthday cold in the street,” he added.

Goldfein said the former school had gotten overwhelmed due to the lack of staffing over the holidays and direction from the city, but as of Thursday, the process should be more efficient.

After Legal Aid got involved this week, the city started holding the migrants’ places in line and having the list carry over each day, allowing them to get out of the cold.

Goldfein warned, however, that it could get worse for asylum seekers at the end of December when the first round of 60-day notices, which applies to migrant families with children, expire.

The majority of asylum seekers in the Big Apple are families, with more than 30,000 kids enrolled in city schools.

“We can’t have a repeat of this,” he said.



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