Creedmoor Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief begins housing migrants in Queens

The Creedmoor Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center (HERRC) opened on Tuesday, one day ahead of schedule.

The facility locals have dubbed “Tent City” is expected to house some 1,000 single males on the grounds of Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens, with City Hall officials telling amNewYork Metro that it will hold between 100 to 150 people by the end of Tuesday. 

Comprising four main areas, new arrivals will first be checked-in at an intake center during which they will be screened for illnesses, such as COVID-19 before being provided with a badge they use to enter and exit the area. They then will be set up with a caseworker who will determine their ultimate destination. The facility also provides a large dining hall with phone access, a shower and bathroom section, and a large sleeping area made up of cots squeezed tightly together. 

Like the previous HERRC on Randall’s Island, criticism is being levied at the placement of the cots being so cramped together. However, Commissioner of the NYC Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Manuel Castro fired back, charging that the ire should instead be placed toward the federal government for failing to offer more aid.

“We understand that there are criticisms coming from both sides of this issue. We ask those activists to direct criticism to the federal government. This is unsustainable, and we continue to fight the federal government to do more,” Castro said. 

The state government is helping the city pick up the tab for this HERRC, which aims to cap individual migrant stays at 60 days in an effort to help keep space open. According to new Deputy Mayor of Communications Fabien Levy, some 100,000 people have passed through the city’s care since last year with about 60,000 currently being provided with shelter by the city. Levy also revealed that the cost of housing a household of asylum seekers costs the city about $383 a night, totaling to about $4.7 billion this year alone. 

While the “Tent City” has been met with several protests by locals since its early construction, Levy simply stated that the city is out of “good options” and running low on both space and resources.

“These are the only options left. It’s a question of people sleeping on the street or people sleeping on a cot, I would rather have people have a safe place for them to sleep under a roof,” Levy said.

Levy also revealed that some single men in the DHS shelter system will be transferred to the HERRCs in order to make more room for family units. Vice President for Primary Care at New York City Health + Hospitals stated that individuals staying at the location will be permitted to come and go as they please at all hours with the first temporary tenants expected to arrive this afternoon.

“We’ve been working incredibly hard to open this site so that we can care for the asylum seekers coming into our city. We’ve been working so hard that we’re opening the site a day ahead of schedule. We’re going to have our first asylum seekers arriving later today. So, can’t wait,” Long said.