Home / Blog / Confidential memo: New York City considering shutting down streets to house asylum seekers

Confidential memo: New York City considering shutting down streets to house asylum seekers

Aug 18, 2023Aug 18, 2023

By Marcia Kramer

Updated on: May 9, 2023 / 9:31 PM / CBS New York

NEW YORK -- New York City is desperately trying to find ways to house the thousands of asylum seekers expected to start arriving once Title 42 expires.

A confidential memo obtained by CBS2 says the city is even considering closing large sections of city streets for temporary housing.

The city is anticipating 800 asylum seekers a day to begin arriving here after the pandemic law limiting the number of immigrants that can enter the United States expires at the end of the week.

Those stunning numbers were found in a confidential memo obtained by CBS2 that lays out the housing options Mayor Eric Adams will have to consider as the numbers swell from the over-61,000 who have already come here to as many as 100,000 by the next fiscal year.

One possibility is to close large sections of streets in various neighborhoods for temporary housing.

"Being on the street bed would provide access to water, sewer and electricity and could then support trailers or modular/prefabricated housing," the memo states.

If the city goes that route, the memo says it could use rehabbed shipping containers or tiny houses.

Mohamed Ahmed, the CEO of a local tiny home manufacturer, says he's already been talking to city officials about suppling units.

"We currently have a model, currently right now it's 420 square feet. It's a two-bedroom, and it's a foldable unit that can be deployed on site," he said.

As the only major U.S. city with a right-to-shelter law, officials are also considering cruise ships and federal installations like Fort Dix in New Jersey, which was used for Afghan resettlement.

Public school gymnasiums, the memo says, are another possibility because schools have kitchens and dining facilities. The downside? It's temporary.

The city would "likely need an exit strategy for (the) start of (the) academic year," the memo says.

Christine Quinn, the head of Win, which shelters homeless families, says a long-term solution would be renovating empty rent-stabilized apartments.

"The idea of going and helping landlords and renovating rent-protected apartments that could become affordable, really low-rent, affordable apartments for migrants is a great one. Also, looking at any of the units that are vacant in the housing authority," she said.

The city is also hoping for help from the American Red Cross and the federal government.

Marcia Kramer joined CBS2 in 1990 as an investigative and political reporter. Prior to CBS2, she was the City Hall bureau chief at the New York Daily News.

First published on May 9, 2023 / 6:30 PM

© 2023 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved.

NEW YORK Read more: "Tidal wave" of asylum seekers could head to New York City when Title 42 expires Read more: As more asylum seekers continue to arrive by bus, New York City struggles to help them all