Mayor Eric Adams’ Administration has officially asked religious leaders for help to place asylum-seeking migrants in houses of worship for shelter. The request for housing came from the Mayor’s Office of Faith Based and Community Partnerships. According to the news publication The City, the office sent out an email to a list of New York City’s various religious leaders on Thursday, December 15th. The religious leaders preside over churches, mosques, and synagogues.
“We are looking for houses of worship to support migrants find shelter and community,” wrote Pastor Gilford Monrose, Executive Director of the Office of Faith-Based and Community Partnerships. Pastor Monrose requested buildings that are secure and accessible, with bathrooms and kitchens that asylum-seeking families or individuals may use. This is not the first time the office has asked for assistance from houses of worship. In October, the Adams Administration asked houses of worship to provide asylum seekers in city shelters with clothing and toiletries.
The arrival of tens of thousands of asylum-seeking migrants in New York City was one of the toughest challenges the Adams Administration faced this year. A large majority of the asylum seekers were homeless and had to be accommodated in the city’s shelter system. The arrival of the asylum-seeking migrants was unexpected and put the city under significant strain regarding resources. The city’s Department of Homeless Services reports that there are currently 64,788 people residing in the shelter system, and 20,000 of those people are asylum seekers. Adams highlighted that the city could not cope with such a situation. The influx of people to the system led to him declaring a state of emergency in October. Adams also requested that the federal government assist the city by providing $1 billion to alleviate the situation. Adams’ request to The Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Emergency Food and Shelter Program’s National Board is still pending.
It would not be the first-time houses of worship were used to shelter asylum-seeking migrants. The chairperson of the African Advisory Council in the Bronx Borough President’s Office, Mohamed Mardah, spoke of African migrants receiving shelter in mosques. Ariadna Phillips of South Bronx Mutual Aid also spoke of how she and her colleagues have been directing asylum seekers who need shelter to houses of worship. “This is what we had to do because there was so much violence and danger and instability in the shelter system, right to shelter law was being violated left and right,” she said.