City Council holds hearing on how agencies are spending over $400 million budget to aid migrants
The City Council held a hearing to review how city agencies are using a budget of over $400 million to aid migrants entering New York City.
The city estimates that it spent approximately $1.4 billion in the 2023 fiscal year on the ongoing humanitarian crisis regarding the entrance of asylum seekers.
To date, over 48,000 asylum seekers have entered the system, with over 8,000 in relief centers and almost 22,000 in city shelters.
City Council members raised concerns that these people are not receiving proper care.
“We have had multiple complaints from guidance counselors, nurses and doctors’ notes talking about children coming to school with malnutrition, weight loss, diarrhea from issues with the food they eat in the DHS shelters,” said the chair of the Committee on Contracts Julie Won.
The Department of Homeless Services claims they’ve been working with nutritionists and following food guidelines to ensure families are getting three balanced meals every day.
Officials also raised the concerns of the mental health of those seeking asylum in New York City.
“I’ll start by saying they need mental health, and they need vaccines,” said Zach Iscol, commissioner of New York City’s Office of Emergency Management. “It still astounds me that we’re seeing less than half of the children from these countries have received lifesaving vaccines to date.”
Besides those issues, Won also stressed the importance of issuing work permits to migrants so they can start building up income and transition into permanent housing.
“The first and foremost that people ask for are working papers,” said Won. “We need to have work authorizations expedited so that people can work. These are not people who are here to sit and relax, people came here to start a new life to pursue new opportunities with their families and they want to go to work.”
Both council members and members of city agencies agree they’ll need more federal and state funding to keep up with the ongoing migrant crisis.