Opposite sides demonstrate in Riverdale over proposal to house migrants in former Manhattan College dorm
Community members joined together on Sunday in two separate protests in Riverdale debating the future of a building that was once owned by Manhattan College.
One side of the street chanted comments like "go back to your country" and the other side yelled "immigrants are welcome here."
The school told News 12 they sold the building in May to a company called The Stagg Group, which had told the community they planned to turn it into affordable housing. Instead, as first reported by the Riverdale Press, Stagg announced at a community board meeting two weeks ago that they're now talking to the city about using it to house immigrants.
"Our local Americans who need affordable housing - that's what this dorm should be for. It shouldn't be a money grab," said one Riverdale resident named Mitch. "Manhattan College sold us out and now they destroyed their very own community."
Members of that same community on the other side of the street, however, said they didn't see an issue. Resident Namoi Sharlin and another neighbor said, "If the company wants to use this building as temporary housing for migrants, I say good on that company. 'Wow, you're really doing something good."
Bridget McEvoy, who also lives in Riverdale, said she came out to support the immigrants.
"It doesn't seem like they're protesting the company across the street. It seems like they're protesting migrants, and that's the problem I have," she said.
But some in that group, with Guardian Angels founder and former mayoral candidate Curtis Sliwa leading the way, argued that they don't have a problem with immigrants. He said they just believe veterans and homeless people already in America should be the priority.
Sharlin disagrees though.
"I don't think it's either or. I think that's a scarcity mindset. We can house immigrants and we can have affordable housing," Sharlin said.
Nothing has been officially set in stone for the building's future so far. The city would have to sign off on any plan to use it as immigrant housing, and there's no timetable for when that might happen.
News 12 reached out to The Stagg Group for comment but had not heard back as of Sunday night.