According to a Daily News investigation, Mayor Adams’ administration is spending an average of roughly $5 million per day to house and feed migrants despite a persistent influx of those seeking refuge at the southern border of the United States.
At a City Council meeting on Friday, Zach Iscol, the emergency management commissioner for Adams, stated that the administration spends, on average, $363 per day on lodging and food for everyone under its supervision. Later, though, Adams spokesperson Kate Smart stated the charge is $1 higher and that it only applies to households that are requesting refuge under the city’s supervision, not to specific people.
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According to Adams’ office, there are presently around 12,700 migrant households living in the city’s shelters and HERRCs.
According to the $364 daily cost, it implies the city spends $4.62 million a day on average on housing and food for those 12,700 households.
“This is not sustainable,” Iscol warned of the city’s soaring, $500 million-plus migrant crisis bill.
Since thousands of predominantly Latin American asylum seekers first began arriving last spring, many of whom were escaping violence and poverty in their own countries, the city has mostly carried the financial weight of the migrant crisis alone. According to Adams’ administration, the federal government has only so far given the city funding for migrant-related projects totaling around $8 million.
Iscol estimates that there are about 8,000 migrants living in the city’s eight HERRCs. There are currently 22,000 more migrants in shelters.
In addition to the eighth HERRC, which is located at a Brooklyn Cruise Terminal warehouse on the waterfront in Red Hook, seven other HERRCs are out of places to stay.
Iscol claims that as of the end of January, the government had spent $141 million alone on the HERRCs. First Deputy Homeless Services Commissioner Molly Park, who was present during the hearing, stated that as of the same time period, her organization had spent $313 million on migrant accommodation.
At the hearing on Friday, Adams officials argued that the city requires significantly more assistance from the federal government and Governor Hochul, adding that the administration anticipates spending up to $1.4 billion on the migrant problem this fiscal year alone. Hochul has sent National Guard members to assist with the logistics of the migrant response and has given asylum seekers access to some legal tools.
The head of the contracts committee for Queens Council and Democrat Julie Won agreed that the city needed additional help, notably from Hochul.
She said to Iscol, “She can’t just be our governor when it’s convenient. “I agree with you that our state partners and our federal partners need to step up.”
How much the city spends on feeding refugees was another expense concern that came up during the meeting.
The average daily expense for feeding migrants in the HERRCs is $17 per person, according to Dr. Ted Long, a key official at the city’s public hospital system, which assists in operating the HERRCs. That’s a lot more money than the city spends on feeding the homeless in shelters. Some shelters, according to Park, only provide $6 in food per person each day.
Council members were admonished by Iscol not to make assumptions about the food price difference.
“Emergencies are going to cost more. There’s a lot of infrastructure that we need to put in place,” he remarked.
The migrant crisis, according to Adams, has brought the city to a “breaking point,” and he has threatened to cut back on essential services if the federal government doesn’t pick up a sizable portion of the mounting tab.
Gale Brewer, a councilwoman representing Manhattan, expressed worry during the meeting regarding the administration’s efforts to obtain funding from the federal government.
She notified Iscol that the Federal Emergency Management Agency had not yet received all of the administration’s invoices for expenses incurred by migrants.
Iscol said that the administration had submitted receipts for more money than the $8 million it had already gotten from FEMA, but he would not give an exact sum.
During the session, Brewer told The News that she couldn’t understand why Adams’ staff couldn’t provide the Council a total monetary amount for the requested payments. Brewer previously handled federal reimbursement applications on behalf of the city when working in Mayor David Dinkins’ administration.
“How is the public supposed to know that you have such a need if you can’t show the receipts?” Brewer declared. “They should be submitting as much as they can. I hope they’re doing that, but I don’t know because they haven’t said.”