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East Village activists try to help migrant housing crisis

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | A day after tempers flared and punches were thrown amid a desperate crowd of hundreds outside the East Village migrant re-intake center, local activists huddled to brainstorm on ideas on how to help out.

The group met Sunday evening at the Earthchxrch, at Third Street and Avenue C. Among them were Reverend Billy and City Council candidate Allie Ryan.

Ryan and other locals are generally concerned about migrants’ exposure to the elements, now that it’s winter, and also about the hoops that people need to jump through just to stay off the streets in the cold weather.

For his part, Reverend Billy, a performance artist preacher / environmental activist, is planning actions to take.

Meanwhile, others want to appeal for help through local community boards.

City Council candidate Allie Ryan stood next to a spray-painted message in Tompkins Square Park about the amount of vacant housing in the city. The circled “A” in “Apartments” is the symbol for anarchy. (Photo by Chris Ryan)

Due to the city’s 30-day cap on homeless shelter stays for single men (families get 60 days), migrants must return to the re-intake center — currently, the city’s only one — at the former St. Brigid School on E. Seventh Street each time they want to secure new temporary digs.

“My take on it is we are a creative ’hood and should be able to keep everyone out of the elements,” offered Chris Ryan, the Council candidate’s husband, who took these photos. “Sadly, we are pretty overwhelmed with our existing problems for people with decades invested in their homes in keeping them aging in place. So to throw a bunch of newbies in the shark pit seems pretty cruel. Maybe it would be a different story if they all arrived in the ’80s and ’90s with hammers, skills and a homesteader attitude. But it seems a real time of struggle already. But problems need solving.”

In addition, Anarchy Row, a small homeless encampment that had taken root under the shelter of a scaffold at First Avenue and Ninth Street, outside Performance Space New York, was recently cleared by the Ninth Precinct. An officer said this was done in the usual manner, with an official notice first being posted at the site to give warning that a cleanup would be coming. Usually, after getting the notice, the people in an encampment then eventually move to another spot — sometimes even just right across the street — and then the cycle repeats.

Johnny Grima, the leader of Anarchy Row, previously told The Village Sun that people had been pelting them from somewhere on the other side of Ninth Street with eggs, onions and ice cubes. Meanwhile, he said, there are thousands of vacant apartments in New York City that could be used to house the homeless.

In related news, local pacifist Robert Reiss reported that, during one of his recent strolls, he noticed, to his surprise, that several benches located across from the 9th Precinct on E. Fifth Street for years have suddenly disappeared. A 9th officer said the seating was removed because a homeless encampment had sprung up around it. The spot is now filled with trash bags. It wasn’t immediately clear if the benches’ removal was connected to the displacement of Anarchy Row.


  1. Globalist Globalist January 9, 2024

    A quick look on Kelly services temp agency site shows a total of nine jobs available in The 10003 ZIP Code, which covers st Brigid. Yet a look in the Boston mass area shows a total of 94 jobs, including machinist and factory jobs. The migrants should be sent to Plymouth mass Where factory jobs Are listed, and then once they have a job they would be able to secure housing.

    • Jon Keller Jon Keller January 9, 2024

      You have it backwards. You need housing, only then are you able to look for work.

      • Globalist Globalist January 12, 2024

        I disagree. Stay with a friend or family member while you’re job hunting. Then find housing based on your salary.


    NYC help for migrants and homeless has become impossible to navigate.
    I tried to help several homeless living in Access NY Housing. Those in charge at 29 East 2nd Street made it impossible for me to assist the person(s), dismissed my queries, and lied to me. The city is in crisis, and no one cares.

    • Jon Keller Jon Keller January 9, 2024

      People DO care. We’re stymied by only being able to vote, as if that’s all the leverage we can apply. And we’re forlorn because that doesn’t work!

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