Transportation access crucial for migrants in Orchard Beach


City Emergency Management Commissioner Zach Iscol said transportation access is a necessity for migrants staying at the temporary hangar-sized tents at Orchard Beach in the Bronx.

The announcement comes after critics of the new shelter raised concerns of the location being a transit desert.

“Thats something we are going to have to solve for and we’re talking to our state partners, the MTA, charter companies about creating greater transportation routes to Orchard Beach to provide that for the folks that are going to be staying there,” Iscol said.

Iscol joined Errol Louis on “Inside City Hall” Friday to talk about how his team has looked at more than 60 locations citywide to determine locations for the tents. He says these sites will provide migrants with a place to stay for up to 96 hours until the city arranges other types of shelter.

The commissioner says the tents will provide relief to the 14,000 asylum seekers who have entered the Big Apple since May. He adds the city is receiving up to nine buses a day of migrants at Port Authority since Republican governors disrupted federal border polices.

The commissioner said where families move to after staying at the tents will be based on each individual case.

“Part of why we are doing this is to give us and them the time and the space they need to figure out what their next step is going to be,” he said. “If it’s entering our shelter system, it’s entering our shelter system, if it’s going on to another destination, it’s going on to another destination, if it’s linking up with a family or sponsor, it’s linking up with a family or sponsor.”

The agency says it has been searching for up to 200,000 square feet of space to accommodate the tents citywide. Iscol says they have been in close contact with state partners and the federal government in order to determine the cost of these locations.

“They have articulated willingness to step in and support and help our efforts. We’re still evaluating those costs,” he said. “But we’re going to take them at their word that they are going to step up and provide that support and those financial needs when the time comes.”

As the city continues to battle with COVID-19, Iscol says the Bronx site will be run by NYC Health+Hospital where a COVID test and health assessment will be required from families. The regulation comes after eight asylum seekers tested positive for COVID.

“Food, shelter, making sure that people have their immediate medical needs, talking care of that is always the first step in any emergency,” he said.

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