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‘Unsustainable’: Rivera says city needs more than just one reticketing center for homeless migrants

BY THE VILLAGE SUN | It’s time to center the critical need for more reticketing centers for homeless migrants.

That’s the urgent message in a letter sent Friday to Zach Iscol, the commissioner of the city’s Office of Emergency Management, by Councilmember Carlina Rivera, along with Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Councilmember Diana Ayala, the chairperson of the Council’s Committee on General Welfare.

Currently, there is only one such reticketing center in the whole city — located in the East Village, at the former St. Brigid School, at Seventh Street and Avenue B, across from Tompkins Square Park.

Addressing the full board meeting of Community Board 2 on Jan. 18, Rivera said she planned to ask the city to open another reticketing center. But the letter goes even further, calling for several more.

“We write to urge the administration to open additional reticketing and reapplication centers throughout the city in order to meet the needs of families and the recent volume created by the 30- and 60-day shelter limit stays implemented by Mayor Adams,” the letter states. “Since November, the situation in the East Village at St. Brigid’s, the city’s only reticketing center, has been untenable and increasingly unmanageable. Thousands of individuals who have recently migrated or arrived involuntarily to New York seeking asylum have shown up to St. Brigid’s doorstep on E. 7th Street and Ave. B in Manhattan and we ask for an immediate expansion of sites.”

The councilmembers are urging the city to create not just more than one reticketing center — but ones in each of the five boroughs. Several sites have been identified in Rivera’s Council District 2, which includes the East Village and part of the Lower East Side and stretches up to Kips Bay.

“With more than one center and a consideration for locations in each borough, the City can ensure people do not stand on line in the cold without access to even basic facilities like bathrooms,” the councilmembers urged. “Multiple locations would also ensure that people are closer to culturally competent, community-based programs and services. Volunteers with LESReady!, a Lower East Side nonprofit with organizing and service-provision experience, have identified four potential sites in Council District 2 alone that could support overflow pending the City’s approval.

A Fire Department ambulance arrives at the former St. Brigid School on Sat., Jan. 6. Earlier that morning, a fight over someone cutting the line to the reticketing center had sparked violence amid the crowd of 400, during which a police officer trying to restore order was punched in the face. Two men were arrested. (Photo by Chris Ryan)

“It is important,” they added, “that we provide the same services available at St. Brigid’s at these additional locations and ask that the managing agencies also do more to provide translation services for both those seeking asylum and the local police precincts who help with the crowds present.”

Having only one reticketing center is imposing a burden on the East Village community — plus a travel hardship on those migrants who might currently be living elsewhere in the city at some distance away.

The New York Post recently reported that three port-a-potties that were installed in Tompkins Square Park during the restroom buildings’ renovation, were overwhelmed by so much added usage and that cups of urine were being left around the park. The benches and paths in the park’s southeast corner are full of discarded food containers.

“Currently, having one reticketing center has not only led to physical capacity concerns,” the councilmembers wrote, “it has created a burden on the adjacent local community and its public spaces. Resources are needed in keeping up with quality of life issues and it appears that efficiency at St. Brigid’s has been in decline, with travel hardships and the overall cost-effectiveness of the process in place in question.”

Councilmember Carlina Rivera says that, amid the migrant crisis, the city’s having only one homeless-shelter reticketing center, in the East Village, has “created a burden” on the surrounding community. (Photo by The Village Sun)

Of particular concern, public safety issues have been increasing at and around the St. Brigid site — creating “unsustainable” conditions and nothing short of “a humanitarian decline,” they said. On the morning of Jan. 6, amid a crowd of 400, a large fight broke out over someone cutting the line and spilling coffee on someone; police officers trying to break it up were injured and two migrants were arrested.

“Without a support network available even locally to those waiting, public safety concerns have increased,” the three pols stated. “According to multiple media reports, just in the past 3 weeks, altercations outside of St. Brigid’s have led to violence, multiple arrests, and minor injuries sustained by police officers present.

This past June, volunteers outside the former St. Brigid’s School manned tables of clothing donated for the migrants. (Photo by Kasey Noss)
Migrants picked up donated clothes and supplies outside the former St. Brigid’s School this past summer. (Photo by Kasey Noss)

“It was reported by the New York Daily News that on January 5, over 1,000 individuals seeking asylum waited on line to receive services at the St. Brigid’s reticketing center, a daily number that has occurred frequently. This model is clearly unsustainable and is fueling public scrutiny of a humanitarian decline occurring in a city that values its identity as a beacon to immigrants.”

Clearly, federal funding is critical to help alleviate the crisis, they said. But in the meantime — amid the glaring lack of responsiveness from Washington — “a better system” is needed to ensure migrants’ emergency shelter, they stressed.

“People seeking asylum have the right to be in the United States per our national policies,” the councilmembers averred. “We must continue to marshal our efforts to urge the federal government to provide New York City with financial support, and get individuals seeking asylum employment authorization and language and vocational training. However, we must act quickly and compassionately in creating a better system for the thousands of people coming to St. Brigid’s for assistance. We urge you to open additional centers and create space for families in need.”


  1. Harriet Hirshorn Harriet Hirshorn January 30, 2024

    As a neighborhood volunteer for Earthchxrch I find the tone of the letter by Rivera and A. Adams to be in stark NIMBY contrast to the outpouring of love and critical help that our generous community has provided, including the Earthchxrch opening their own warming center and getting the job done, and 6th Street Community Center with EVLovesNYC cooking and delivering thousands of meals a week. Neighbors organised by Sixth Street Community Center come into the park seeking people who do not have a coat and give them one right then and there. All of these activities, including researching legal and other services and support, have been done without the aid or supervision of anyone who works for the city, without the help of anyone I personally voted for. Rivera in particular, whose office is a mere few blocks away, has never shown her face. Not once. No words of encouragement even to the brave and motivated people who are for the most part fleeing conflict and persecution in francophone Africa. We have listened to their stories and asked them what they need. Rivera has not. And now, her only response to this crisis is to try to get these people out of the neighborhood. That is how this reads.

    It is insane and totally uncivilized that there are no public bathrooms in Tompkins Square Park. This situation needs to be rectified immediately.

    I am glad that the Village Sun plans to do more reporting on this and shed light on why people have to be outside in the cold for weeks before finding shelter. Our elected officials don’t seem to care.

  2. Millie Meelee Millie Meelee January 29, 2024

    I am curious what they are getting paid now as well. Last summer when it was being used as a migrant shelter, it was reported all over the news that the city was paying $125 per head per night. The migrant guys sleeping there told me, because I often stop and talk with them, that there were 4 rooms, usually with about 20 guys each. Do the math!

  3. Stephen DiLauro Stephen DiLauro January 29, 2024

    Here’s an idea. Evict the United Nations and make it a homeless migrant shelter. The UN is a total failure and a big money suck. Rivera should support this. She can point to the UN as doing a worse job of what it’s supposed to than she does by not representing her constituents.

  4. Allecram Allecram January 29, 2024

    I would like to call out the amazing work and compassion that community organizations like EVLovesNYC and Earthchxrch have provided to the asylum seekers. They have without doubt saved lives with the food, warmth and supplies they provided in lieu of the city and deserve recognition!

  5. Tommy Loeb Tommy Loeb January 29, 2024

    Appreciate the letter NOW GET IT DONE….letters don’t get action.

  6. Allie Ryan Allie Ryan January 28, 2024

    I’m disappointed that there is no reporting or questions being asked in this piece. The Village Sun is quoting the “letter” as news. I wonder what Father Connolly, the Parks Dept, Office of Emergency Management, EVLovesNYC, 6th St Community Center, Earth Chxrch or East Village Neighbors Who Care, Stacie Joy and volunteers would say. At the very least CM Rivera could have been photographed engaging helping the migrants.

    • The Village Sun The Village Sun Post author | January 28, 2024

      Allie, we are working on a piece with more voices, but we thought this new letter was newsworthy to report on. We know you are passionate about this issue. In the meantime, please “don’t shoot the messenger” for adding additional information to an ongoing story!

    • JF Hyer JF Hyer January 29, 2024

      I think you wrote that in haste, Allie. It’s a little unreasonable to ask for such a photo. How should the paper go about attaining that and to what end?

    • BCapoNYC BCapoNYC January 29, 2024

      Oh GAWD Allie, just give constructive suggestions/solutions.

  7. sam sam January 27, 2024

    Wish Carlina Rivera had some interest in her constituents, actual NYC residents.
    And many need help.

    But poor, elderly NYC residents not cool enough for CR to care about.

  8. John Penley John Penley January 26, 2024

    How much is the Catholic Church getting paid to use the old school for this reticketing disaster? Why is the Priest at St. Brigid’s not opening the church as a warming center? Remember Father George Kuhn? We who loved and respected him know what he would have done in this situation. How about the Priest and the Catholic higher-ups rent some more portable toilets if they are getting paid for use of the school? Why have the Post and the NYDN not asked the Priest and the Catholic Church any of these questions? And finally why have Catholics all over the city not been asked to volunteer to help since the Church let Adams use this space and has shared responsibility for the bad press about immigrants and the inhumane conditions they have caused?

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