NYC spends $35 million for 2 migrant hotels as border crisis festers

By Carl Campanile and Jared Downing
Published Sep. 4, 2023, 7:57 p.m. ET

New York City has forked over $35 million to a pair of nonprofits to house migrants at hotels in Manhattan and Queens — part of the $5.2 billion racked up so far to navigate the growing crisis, The Post has learned.

The city’s Department of Homeless awarded $26.4 million to the Volunteers of America to aid migrants at the Paul Hotel in Midtown, and another $9.48 million to Lutheran Social Services of Metropolitan New York, which has been hosting migrants at a Fairfield Inn in Long Island City.

Both locations are designated in the city record as a “city sanctuary facility for families with children” and are among the 200 city shelters currently housing nearly 60,000 migrants.

Mayor Eric Adams has claimed the cost to shelter and provide other services to the asylum seekers — which so far is $5.2 billion — could shatter $12 billion over three years. He has repeatedly appealed to President Biden for help, including financial assistance and expedited work permits for migrants, but to no avail.

Families congregated in front of the Paul hotel on West 29th Street Monday — with some coming as far away as Russia and Venezuela.

Migrants are housed at a Fairfield Inn in Long Island City.
Kevin C. Downs for NY Post

A National Guardsman patrolling the site moved some children’s bikes off the sidewalk, which was also scattered with toys.

“We came here to avoid mobilization for the war,” said Leila Usmanov, who fled Russia with her husband Ruslan Usmanov and their three children, ages 16, 10 and 3. “We didn’t want to fight against our own. Ukrainians and Russians are the same people.”Leila said the family was “grateful to the US government” but complained the food the city was providing at the swanky hotel-turned-shelter was less than nutritious.

My husband and I have high blood sugar, and the food isn’t very good for us. Our kids don’t want to eat it,” she said.

Ruslan added, “Come here in the evening and you will see a giant pile of wasted food they’re throwing out. Ninety percent of the food here isn’t eaten.”

Jony Martines, 42, is a Mexican migrant waiting for his work permit to provide for his family.
Kevin C. Downs for NY Post

Jony Martines, who walked by foot to the US-Mexico border before making his way to the Big Apple, was looking forward to being able to work legally.

“We’ve been here three months, but it’s only temporary until I can get a work permit and find some work. All I want is to start working and build a life, but I haven’t been able to find a job or even get the work permit yet,” said Martines, 42, who was accompanied by his wife and two kids, ages 2 and 8.

But he said of the shelter, “This is a huge help. It’s clean, it’s safe. The help with childcare. They are very attentive. We get a lot of attention here.”

Daniel Garcia, 28, who also travelled on foot from Venezuela with his wife and child, said he was working as a telecom technician in his native country.

But he said his father, a police officer, got in trouble with the government and had to leave.

The journey took them five months, including getting stuck at the border waiting to be processed.

“I crossed legally and I am really grateful for the opportunity to come and stay here. They have been very good to us,” Garcia said.

“Everything is really good at this hotel. The place is clean, there are resources for the kids. The only problem is we don’t have a kitchen, and honestly the food isn’t very good for the kids. We would rather make our own food.”

Garcia also looked forward to getting a work permit.

National Guard specialist Mohamed Maouchi is assigned to patrol the hotel and make sure no issues occur.
Kevin C. Downs for NY Post

“I’m trying to get a work permit as soon as possible so I can find a job,” he said. “This shelter is nice, but it is only temporary. I just want to work and build a new life for my family. I’m grateful that I have the opportunity to do that here.”

National Guard specialist Mohamed Maouchi, assigned to patrol the hotel and keep the peace, insisted that the migrant-filled Paul hotel was orderly and safe.

On Sunday, The Post reported that at least 41 migrants have been arrested on charges including domestic violence at the Roosevelt Hotel shelter on East 45th Street.

“We make sure everything goes smoothly. We make sure the women are protected from, you know, domestic abuse situations. We provide the food,” Maouchi said. “There haven’t really been any problems. Everything is peaceful.”

He defended the meals, saying the migrants are well fed.

“We give them really good food here. Vegetables, nutritious stuff,” he said.

The city’s Department of Homeless awarded $26.4 million to the Volunteers of America to aid migrants at several hotels.
Kevin C. Downs for NY Post

Meanwhile, a staffer at the Fairfield Inn said the hotel just reopened to paying guests a week ago, but is still half-filled with migrants.

Fairfield General Manager Louis Gonzales told The Post the 40th Road hotel has housed migrants since January without major problems after once serving as a halfway house for ex-convicts.

“We had sheltered people here through Exodus Transitional Housing, former convicts, contracting with the city, but we phased them out. It was a lot worse. Trash, smoking, noise,” Gonzales said.

By comparison, he said migrant families haven’t given the staff any trouble. He said the premises have been kept clean and the neighbors haven’t voiced the opposition that has bubbled up elsewhere.

“When we started taking in migrants, we spoke with members of the community, had conversations, and everyone was on board. We’ve had a lot of families here. They’ve all been fine. No problems. The premises are kept clean. No complaints from the community,” Gonzales said.

“Now, I have heard the stories from other places. Noise, trash, stuff being left out. I know there have been problems in other places, but that hasn’t been the case here.”