On Saturday, December 23rd, 2023, Senator Cordell Cleare, along with members of the Harlem community, hosted a winter coat drive at the historic Malcolm Shabazz Masjid, which is located in the 116th Street corridor in her district.
The few blocks that make up that corridor have experienced a recent influx of migrants, mostly young men from various West African nations. Since November, the Senator, along with partners such as the Frederick Douglass Boulevard Alliance, started accepting new and very gently worn coat donations from the community.
“During this holiday season the community saw a need among the migrants that have arrived in the area,” said New York State Senator Cordell Cleare, who represents areas of Harlem where many of the people seeking asylum, have chosen to live. “For that reason, I chose to host this drive. I am thankful for the interest among residents in addressing the needs of our newest New Yorkers as we all seek to make sure everyone is served during this holiday season.”
The drive also included other items, such as socks, sweatpants, shirts, and long underwear. Food was generously provided by local restaurants, including Chick-Fil-A, which opened its Harlem location on 125th Street within the past year. Along with the distribution of these items, attendees received information on area resources including, the benefits of having a municipal NYC I.D., the locations of the City’s navigation centers where they can seek legal assistance, and the nearest libraries, where they can use computers free of charge. Volunteers that are fluent in French and other languages that are predominant in West Africa, were also on hand to translate.
The Mayor, Senator Cleare, and other elected from around the country have called on the federal State Department to expand its Temporary Protective Status, commonly referred to as TPS, to additional countries, including Guatemala, Mali, The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mauritania, Niger, Burkina Faso and Guinea. Unlike Asylum, which many of the migrants in the Senator’s district are seeking, the option of being eligible for TPS will allow people from these countries to receive expedited federal work authorization, which will be crucial in helping to get them into stable housing and gain access to other critical resources. Right now, individuals and families from Venezuela, which has a TPS designation, are able to come to places like the Adam Clayton Powell State Office building in Harlem and if approved, are able to apply for an expedited federal work authorization.
In addition to providing funding for migrants, Senator Cleare, is asking the federal, state, and local authorities, to recognize the influx of new arrivals in her district and provide support for food distribution, mobile showers, job training, and an expansion of the languages that are currently offered through English as a Second Language (ESL) programs. She recently brought together representatives from the City’s Department of Sanitation and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene to discuss ways to increase garbage collection, enhanced street cleaning, and ways to mitigate some of the extreme street congestion along the 116th Street between Adam Clayton Powell Jr. Boulevard and Malcolm X Boulevard and further north at 144th Street, concerns which existed before the arrival of migrants to the area, but that have become compounded due to the increase in population.
Senator Cleare is currently serving in her second term from District 30, representing Central Harlem, East Harlem (El Barrio), West Harlem, Upper Westside, Morningside Heights, Manhattanville, Hamilton Heights and Washington Heights neighborhoods. Cleare is the second women to hold this seat.
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