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NYC mayor reverses plan to house illegal immigrants in luxury apartments after community opposition

The neighbors were unaware of any plans for the building until they saw bunk bed boxes being loaded into the building last week.

Published: February 18, 2024 1:54pm

New York City Mayor Eric Adams reversed plans to convert an abandoned luxury Harlem apartment complex into a shelter for illegal immigrants after the community voiced outrage over the proposal. 

Adams' 180 comes after he appeared last week at a community meeting where dozens of residents expressed their anger about plans to turn the 35-story building, which has remained vacant for a decade, into a homeless shelter that could potentially house illegal immigrants. 

The neighbors were unaware of any plans for the building until they saw bunk bed boxes being loaded into the building last week, according to CBS News

"I told the team, 'Find out what’s going on here. We’re not moving folks into a brand new building when you have long-term needs in a community. That’s not gonna happen,'" Adams said at the community meeting. "You will not have migrants and asylum seekers in that property."

A New York City Department of Social Services spokesperson said the building will now "serve as high-quality transitional housing for long-term New York City families with children experiencing homelessness."

Officials have not said when the shelter is expected to open.

Regardless, some residents are still unhappy about the decision. 

"We have too many homeless shelters in this community," Harlem resident Regina Smith said. She said she would prefer the building to be turned into affordable housing, as 44% of homes in the neighborhood are considered rent-burdened, which means that they spend more than one-third of their income on rent. 

"We have a dearth of affordable housing, we're being priced out of the community ... The lack of respect is absolutely appalling," she said. 

"These apartments could be used for us to go into," resident Leslie Johnson said.

The luxury building features an indoor swimming pool and apartments with granite countertops in the kitchen and marble in the bathrooms, but the developers defaulted on loans for the building, per state records. 

New York City has faced a recent influx of illegal immigrants to the point where Adams said last fall that the "issue will destroy New York City."

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