According to Mayor Adams, city officials have announced their plans to convert the Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown Manhattan into a migrant housing and resource center.
The initial phase will involve opening 175 rooms in the hotel to accommodate children and families, with the ultimate goal of providing a total of 850 rooms for this purpose.
Additionally, the city intends to allocate another 150 rooms specifically for migrants who are temporarily stopping in New York before continuing their journey to other destinations. It is worth noting that the hotel had approximately 1,000 rooms when it ceased operations nearly three years ago.
Also, the hotel will serve “as a centralized intake center for all arriving asylum seekers and providing migrants with access to a range of legal, medical, and reconnection services, as well as placement, if needed, in a shelter or humanitarian relief center,” the announcement said.
Newly-arrived immigrants will be directed to the hotel, which will serve as a hub for various services provided by the city. These services include assisting with school enrollment, enrollment in the Fair Fares program (which offers discounted bus and subway fares), and facilitating access to health insurance. The center is expected to operate around the clock and will offer additional support such as mental health counseling, transportation assistance, and various services provided by community-based organizations.
Situated on E. 45th St. at Madison Ave., just steps away from Grand Central Terminal, the hotel building, which is nearly a century old, ceased operations and closed its doors to guests in October 2020 due to the adverse impacts of the pandemic.
In a statement, Mayor Adams mentioned that the city has already provided assistance to over 65,000 asylum seekers and has established more than 140 emergency shelters and eight large-scale humanitarian relief centers.
But the mayor pleaded for more state or federal aid to deal with the influx. “Without federal or state assistance, we will be unable to continue treating new arrivals and those already here with the dignity and care that they deserve,” Adams said.
The majority of the migrants arriving are from Central America, and their numbers have increased in recent weeks following the expiration of border restrictions that were implemented during the coronavirus pandemic.
At the time of its closure in October 2020, the Roosevelt Hotel was under the ownership of Pakistan International Airlines, which is predominantly controlled by the Pakistani government.
According to a report from a Pakistani news site in January, the government expressed its intention to retain ownership of the Roosevelt Hotel building and transform it into a “mixed-use high-rise tower.”
To reopen the hotel, the city had to reach an agreement with the hotel’s unions that “restores union jubs but also provides tens of millions of odllars in compensation for workers that were without jobs since the start of the pandemic,” said Rich Maroko, president of the New York Hotel & Gaming Trades Council.
The cost of running the Roosevelt Hotel center will come from the $1.4 billion the city has allocated to the migrant crisis for the current fiscal year, which ends June 30, said a spokesman for Mayor Adams.