50 houses of worship in NYC to house asylum seekers

June 5, 2023

Photo credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office on Flickr

Mayor Eric Adams on Monday announced 50 houses of worship and faith-based facilities across the five boroughs will provide shelter to asylum seekers. As part of a two-year partnership between the city and the New York Disaster Interfaith Services (NYDIS), the shelter program includes housing about 19 single adult men at each location, with 1,000 men total expected to be housed by August. The city said it will also open five daytime migrant centers to allow the worship spaces to continue normal activities.

The idea for the program developed after the city launched a similar shelter program called Love Thy Neighbor, which has connected 80 houses of worship across the five boroughs to a local shelter or migrant center, according to Pastor Gilford Monrose. These faith-based centers have helped provide those in need with food, clothing, and more.

Furthering the program, Monrose reached out to houses of worship to see if they had space that could be turned into daytime centers for migrants or outfitted for overnight stays.

“They are escaping violence, oppression, poverty, and, like all of us, want to live and support their families in peace,” Monrose said.

“New York City is the city of immigrants, as attested by the words of Emma Lazarus engraved on the inner pedestal of the Statue of Liberty: ‘Give me your tired, your poor, your huddled masses yearning to breathe free.’ I am really grateful that faith leaders are opening their doors to asylum seekers — providing their space as well as the hands of the community to care for them. New York is truly a city of faith.”

The Elim International Fellowship at 20 Madison Street in Bed-Stuy, Brooklyn will be one of the first houses of worship to partake in the program. Only migrants will be eligible to stay at houses of worship, not homeless New Yorkers.

The city estimated it will spend approximately $125 a night per migrant staying at each house of worship, including additional costs for laundry services and security officers.

As first reported by Fox 5 NY, the city is currently spending around $380 per day on each asylum seeker. Adams said the crisis has cost $1.2 billion so far this year, which is expected to grow to $4.3 billion by the end of June 2024.

The mayor again on Monday called on the federal government for more funding to help the city during this ongoing crisis. The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) has provided the city with roughly $40 million in funding.

“As we continue to tackle this humanitarian crisis, I’m proud that through this new partnership with New York Disaster Interfaith Services, New York City’s faith community will be able to provide shelter to asylum seekers in need at houses of worship throughout the five boroughs,” Adams said. “Not only will this increase the space we have by nearly 1,000 beds, but it will also connect asylum seekers with local communities. New York City continues to do all that we can to address this crisis, but we need additional assistance from other partners.”

Last week, the City Council passed a set of bills that will help house more homeless New Yorkers and free up shelter space for asylum seekers. The legislation ended a rule that required unhoused people to spend at least 90 days in a shelter before qualifying for a rental assistance voucher.


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