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    Thursday, May 30, 2024

    NYC congressional leaders: Let migrants live in college dorm rooms this summer

    An asylum seeking migrant carries a flyer as he arrives at the Roosevelt Hotel, Friday, May 19, 2023, in New York (AP Photo/Eduardo Munoz Alvarez)
    Recent immigrants to the United States sit with their belongings on the sidewalk in front of the Watson Hotel in New York, Monday, Jan. 30, 2023. The immigrants, mostly from Venezuela and other Latin American countries, had been living in the hotel until recently, when they were told to leave the temporary shelter. (AP Photo/Seth Wenig)

    New York City universities and colleges should open up their student dorms and apartments to asylum seekers this summer, two of the state’s congressional representatives said Monday as the city continues to struggle to find room for the tens of thousands of migrants who’ve arrived since last year.

    In a letter to the heads of CUNY, SUNY, NYU and a coalition of local private institutions, Democratic New York Reps. Dan Goldman and Jamaal Bowman said the educational systems should have plenty of “available space on your campuses that may be suitable to provide shelter for new arrivals” during the summer break.

    “During the summer, many of your institutions have empty dorm rooms, student apartments, and other potentially appropriate places for shelter that can serve as much-needed temporary housing for migrants,” the lawmakers wrote in the letter, a copy of which was obtained by the Daily News. “We also ask for your help as we work with local leaders to provide food assistance and other necessities as well as pro bono legal assistance to migrant families arriving in New York.”

    Bowman, who represents parts of the Bronx, and Goldman, who represents a section of Manhattan and Brooklyn, urged the university bosses to conduct audits of their properties to identify spaces that could be turned into migrant housing and report results back to them.

    According to an aide in Goldman’s office, SUNY, CUNY and NYU should alone have room to house thousands of migrants in the city during the summer months, when most students vacate their dorms and apartments. The National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the private coalition also addressed in the letter, counts Columbia University, Barnard College and Fordham University among its New York City member schools.

    SUNY has four campuses in the city, including the Fashion Institute of Technology on Manhattan’s West Side. A spokeswoman for the state university system said in response to the Goldman-Bowman letter that it is “assessing whether there are SUNY resources available to help with the arrival of asylum seekers.”

    At an unrelated press conference in Brooklyn later Monday, Gov. Kathy Hochul voiced some optimism about the potential of housing migrants on SUNY campuses across the state.

    “The timing is very good because a lot of the students have left now for the summer so there are temporary dorms through August, but we are looking at the long-range situation — what happens in August?” she said.

    Reps for CUNY, NYU and the coalition of city-based private schools did not immediately return requests for comment.

    The missive from Goldman and Bowman comes as Mayor Eric Adams’ administration is scrambling to find housing for migrants.

    According to the latest data shared by Adams’ office, more than 41,000 migrants, most of them from Latin America, are residing in city shelters and emergency hotels, pushing the systems to capacity.

    That has prompted the administration to take drastic steps to find more housing, including sending migrants to live in hotels upstate and briefly activating a controversial plan earlier this month to house some in public school gyms. The administration is also considering putting migrants in a shuttered jail on Rikers Island, as first reported by The News.

    Asked for comment on their letter, Adams spokeswoman Kate Smart said the mayor’s team is “grateful” to Goldman and Bowman “for supporting our efforts to secure additional spaces as we continue respond to this humanitarian crisis.”

    The mayor has in recent weeks lamented what he sees as an unwillingness by fellow New York elected officials to do more to help his administration address the city’s migrant crisis.

    “The No. 1 question I’m asking everyone now: ‘Did you go to Washington to get us more money? What have you done for the migrants and where would you like for me to house them?’” Adams said at a press conference last week.

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