Mayor Adams Announces Humanitarian Emergency Response And Relief Centers To Support Asylum Seeks Entering NYC

September 22, 2022

New York City Mayor Eric Adams today announced the city will open Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers to support the hundreds of asylum seekers arriving in New York City each day from Texas and other border states.

As the number of asylum seekers sent to New York City continues to grow, these humanitarian relief centers will provide assistance to newly arriving individuals and families and ensure they continue to be connected to the full range of services and support they need.

Humanitarian relief centers will become the first touch point for arriving asylum seekers, helping people by immediately offering shelter, food, medical care, casework services, and a range of settlement options including through connections to family and friends inside and outside of New York City, in addition to, if needed, the possibility of direct referrals to alternative emergency supports or city shelter.

“More than 100 years ago, Ellis Island opened its doors to welcome in those ‘yearning to breathe free.’ Now, more than ever, it’s clear that we are again dealing with a humanitarian crisis created by human hands. While other leaders have abdicated their moral duty to support arriving asylum seekers, New York City refuses to do so,” said Mayor Adams. “This is not an everyday homelessness crisis, but a humanitarian crisis that requires a different approach. That’s why the Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers will be the first touchpoint for asylum seekers that will provide them with a range of services and support as families determine their next steps. This emergency response represents what we know must be done during this humanitarian crisis, as we continue to seek assistance from our federal and state partners to continue this work. Like the generations that came to our city before, New York will provide the thousands now coming to our city with the foundation to build a better life.” 

“This is a humanitarian crisis that requires a new approach designed specifically to best assist those coming to our city,” said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom. “The Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers will have services tailored to the asylum seeker population, including providing settlement options, as well as legal information and health and safety supports. In this unprecedented time, we’re laser-focused on supporting the parents, children, and individuals who deserve compassion and support, and these centers are one piece of our work to do just that.”

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“We need to assess and address asylum seekers’ needs as soon as they arrive, and connect them with services as quickly as possible,” said Deputy Mayor for Public Safety Philip Banks. “The relief centers will be a crucial piece of our overall response to help these asylum seekers get their necessary assistance.”

“As hundreds of migrants continue to enter New York City each day, we must take steps to ensure their health and safety as well as maintain our ability to provide essential services; that’s why we’re proud to announce the launch of the Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers. These centers will provide services such as wellness checks and temporary shelter when individuals and families first come to the city,” said New York City Department of Emergency Management (NYCEM) Commissioner Zach Iscol. “This is a true interagency effort, and we look forward to continuing this work with our partner agencies to ensure asylum seekers are receiving the resources they need after a long and difficult journey.”

“The mayor has made it clear that New York City takes care of its own, and NYC Health + Hospitals is proud to step up, answer this humanitarian crisis and help those in need,” said Mitchell Katz, MD, president and CEO, NYC Health + Hospitals (H+H). “Once again we will show cities around this country the value of a municipal health care system, and our commitment to the health of all our patients regardless of their immigration status.”​

“NYC Health + Hospitals has always been committed to caring for all those who call New York City home. We are proud to now extend our mission to help all individuals and families seeking asylum by operating the city’s first Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers,” said Ted Long, MD, MHS, senior vice president, Ambulatory Care, and Population Health, NYC Health + Hospitals. “We look forward to working together, as one city, to ensure that all asylum seekers receive the proper welcome, care, and respect they deserve.”

NYCEM and H+H will operate the Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers and partner with other city agencies, as well as contracted partners and providers, to provide comprehensive on-site services and referrals.

Two humanitarian relief centers will open in the coming weeks: Orchard Beach will open first serving adults, and a second location is still being finalized.

Additional humanitarian relief centers may be opened in the coming weeks, as needed. All humanitarian relief centers will be expertly designed and built in climate-controlled, safe spaces.

To the extent possible, buses will arrive directly at Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers or be directed there from the Port Authority.

Once arriving, all asylum seekers who want them will be provided with settlement options, as well as immediate health, safety, and legal information.

Asylum seekers who do not or cannot find immediate housing will stay at humanitarian relief centers for approximately 24 to 96 hours (these times are subject to change depending on the situation).

The additional assessment time will ensure asylum seekers understand their options and can get to their desired destination quickly and smoothly.

Photo credit: 1) A past example of what the outside of a Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center will look like. New York City’s setups will likely have some differences. 2) A past example of what the inside of a Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center will look like that would only shelter single adults. Families would be sheltered in a humanitarian relief center with a different setup.

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