The first group of migrants transferred to the temporary settlement at Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn on Sunday, November 12th, expressed strong dissatisfaction with the facility and location, and quickly left.
The site’s inauguration saw dozens of migrant families, ushered in by the Mayor Eric Adams administration, assessing the location and almost immediately choosing to depart to their former shelters.
“We weren’t told where we were going,” said a migrant father to the New York Post, highlighting the impracticality of the site due to work and schooling commitments in the Bronx.
Another shared his disbelief, having been relocated from the Roosevelt Hotel, a city processing center, without prior knowledge.
Approximately 2,000 asylum seekers are anticipated to be housed at the site, which has been the subject of extensive criticism for its remoteness and safety issues, including fire hazards.
State Assemblywoman Jaime Williams reported conversations with migrants who expressed fear and confusion, leading to their unanimous decision to leave, citing the site’s isolation as a barrier to work and education.
Williams unequivocally characterized the site as “a disaster waiting to happen.” She said, “It’s not the ideal location for anyone to live. There’s no supermarket. There’s no infrastructure.”
Despite the cold weather and lack of local amenities, a spokesperson for Mayor Adams confirmed that some migrants chose to stay while others signed release forms to leave.
He reiterated the city’s challenge in accommodating the influx of over 139,500 asylum seekers, admitting a scarcity of suitable shelter options. He said, “With more than 65,600 migrants still currently in our care, and thousands more continuing to arrive every week, we have used every possible corner of New York City and are quite simply out of good options to shelter migrants.”
An administration insider indicated that migrants had been pre-warned about the limited housing alternatives, ensuring that those who departed could return if they wished.
Meanwhile, a bus driver expressed surprise at the migrants’ decision to leave.
The driver told the Post, “We were shocked when they turned around and left. Only a few people stayed. We didn’t see that coming.”
Concerns about the site’s suitability were further amplified by New York City fire officials who cited the remote location and unreliable fire hydrants.
The site, a former federal airfield and now a national park, has also been questioned by United States Representative Bruce Westerman and others in Congress and criticized by former Governor Andrew Cuomo for its impracticality.
Despite criticism, Adams has promised safety measures, including storage for e-bikes and shuttle services, as the city grapples with the housing crisis for the thousands of migrants seeking refuge in the city.
Governor Kathy Hochul has echoed the call for additional federal support after securing the use of Floyd Bennett Field for migrant housing.