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Black Migrant Housing Crisis in NYC

 Black Migrant Housing Crisis in NYC


New York City Council
New York City Hall, City Hall Park 
New York, NY 10007

July 18th, 2023

About five hundred recently arrived asylum seekers, mostly of African and Arab descent, are facing a housing crisis in New York City. They are currently warehoused at the Stockton Street Migrant Respite Center in Brooklyn where living conditions are dire. The city of New York has placed these vulnerable migrants in despicable and uninhabitable conditions that fail to honor and respect their human rights and human dignity. 

Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI), Black and Arab Migrant Solidarity Alliance (BAMSA) Bushwick City Farms, and Muslims Giving Back (MGB) write this letter to express grave concerns about the growing crisis at the Stockton Street Migrant Respite Center (Stockton Center) in Brooklyn, and to demand immediate action by this council to provide much-needed relief. We join the asylum seekers in demanding humane housing. 

We call for livable shelter standards: equitable and consistent access to functioning air conditioning, running water, bathroom and shower access, electricity, cooking access, privacy and safety, and Wi-Fi on all floors. Please see our specific demands below. 

The Stockton Center, similar to other shelters around the city, is currently unequipped to support the vulnerability of an influx of newly arrived asylum seekers, particularly those who are African and Caribbean migrants and are subject to anti-Blackness and increased racial targeting, harassment and discriminatory practices. The City’s failure will create a refugee camp in the middle of a Brooklyn neighborhood that has historically been disinvested in. 

Over the last three weeks the conditions at the Stockton Street site include:

  • Inconsistent, inaccessible and non-functioning restrooms, shower
  • Hot and stuffy accommodations without consistent air conditioning at a time when we are experiencing unprecedented temperatures
  • Lack of translation services for French, Arabic, Pulaar, Spanish, Haitian Creole and Portuguese speakers
  • Lack of appropriate dietary food and essential hygiene materials 
  • Lack of laundry facilities
  • Lack of access to legal representation + medical prescription support 
  • Lack of cultural, health and social logistical support to people new to the city

Below is a list of our demands and expectation of the City of New York:

  • Immediately provide functioning and accessible mobile showers, toilets, drinking water, cooling systems, and laundry facilities for recently arrived migrants and other vulnerable people in the neighborhood in need of these facilities
  • Immediately provide the resources needed to provide halal food and hygiene products to recently arrived migrants and other vulnerable people in the neighborhood in need of food and hygiene products
  • Immediately provide interpreters and translators (or the resources to pay independent interpreters and translators) for recently arrived migrants, particularly those who can interpret and translate French, Arabic, Pulaar, Spanish, Haitian Creole, and Brazilian/African Portuguese
  • Immediately provide NYC ID cards and Metro cards so the recently arrived migrants can have increased mobility and safety, particularly for Black migrants who are vulnerable to racial profiling and targeting by NYPD and ICE
  • Immediately provide civil society and nonprofits, especially Black and Arab Migrant groups, access inside HERRC Shelters and Respite Centers to provide support with access to essential programming for successful navigation and integration for these recent arrivals 

In an effort to ensure livable shelter standards are met across the City, we call for the adoption of City Council Bill, (Int 0942-2023), “Minimum Standards for Emergency Congregate Housing”, introduced by Councilmember Shahana Hanif, to support basic necessities of Asylum seekers in these facilities, especially African migrants who based on religious practices require accommodations for dietary restrictions and shower access, both of which have been denied for 20 days.

Furthermore, we urgently request the New York City Council hold a public hearing for testimony from folks in migrant shelters, concerned community members, and Black and Arab organizations that are working to meet the crisis and support the enormous need created by the city’s current policies. 

Black Alliance for Just Immigration (BAJI)
Black and Arab Migrant Solidarity Alliance (BAMSA)
Bushwick City Farms
Muslims Giving Back (MGB)