Adams announces new migrant relief center for women and adult families in Midtown

Hotel Walcott
The Hotel Walcott in Midtown
Photo by Dean Moses

New York City is opening a third emergency shelter for migrant women and families just a couple of weeks after Mayor Eric Adams declared President Joe Biden’s new border policy is stemming the flow of migrants who’ve been arriving in the city by the thousands since May.

The newest so-called “Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center (HERRC),” the third of its kind announced in the city over the past couple of months, will be located at the Hotel Wolcott in Midtown Manhattan and include 175 rooms for asylum seeker single adult women and adult families, according to a release from City Hall.

In a statement, Adams said while the Biden administration’s new immigration policy — which involves expelling Venezualan migrants who illegally cross the border — has greatly reduced the number of asylum seekers coming to the city each day, there are still many women and adult families showing up in need of shelter. 

“We are still seeing a steady stream of single adult women and adult families arriving in New York City in need of assistance,” Adams said in a statement. “The city’s third Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center will soon open to provide these populations access to a multitude of supports and resources.”

Since the spring, roughly 22,600 asylum seekers have arrived here, approximately of which are in the city’s shelter system.

Like the other HERRC’s, the new relief center is meant to serve as a – totally optional – first stop for migrants arriving in the Big Apple, giving them a place to lay their heads and receive city services while they decide where they’d like to go next. In addition to shelter, the facility will provide food, medical care, case work and placement services.

Migrant center opening at Midtown's Hotel Walcott
The exterior of the Hotel Walcott in Midtown.Photo by Dean Moses

The mayor said they’ll keep working with families who don’t want to stay in the city to get where they want to go.

“Our teams will continue to work with these families and assess if they want to actually stay in New York City and, if not, help them get to their desired destinations,” Adams said.

The first HERRC Adams announced, a 500-bed facility that opened on Randall’s Island late last month, has reportedly sat almost empty for much of the two weeks since it opened, having as few as seven occupants last week. However, according to reporting from the New York Post, the tent-like facility is only now starting to fill up, with around 100 Senegalese men who were bussed there Wednesday.

A second relief center serving 200 migrant families with children opened at the Row Hotel last month.

In making the announcement, Adams also renewed his calls – from when he declared a city state of emergency last month over the influx of migrants – for both the federal and state governments to provide the city with financial assistance to handle the crisis.

“As we continue to provide support to the more than 16,800 people in our care, we continue to work with federal and state partners to seek financial assistance as we deal with this unprecedented humanitarian crisis,” he said.

During an unrelated press conference Thursday afternoon, City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams applauded the mayor’s decision to cite another HERRC for a hotel, in response to a question from PoliticsNY. The speaker had urged Adams to open the facilities in under-utilized hotels instead of in tent-like structures outside like the Randall’s Island HERRC – even sending him a list of 10 closed hotels that could shelter migrants last month.

“The council actually urged for hotels to be considered for HERRCs before ever thinking about Randall’s Island or Orchard Beach or anything else,” Speaker Adams said. “So, we’re actually glad to see this approach being taken. We think it’s an effective one, a good way to use our hotels. So, we’re just really happy that HERRCs are being created in hotel spaces.”

This story was updated with comments from City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams at 2:37 p.m. on Nov. 3, 2022.