In An Open Letter Renee Collymore Urges Mayor Eric Adams to Address Migrant Crisis After Hundreds of Residents Attend Town Hall

Renee Collymore, the Democratic Liaison 57th AD (Clinton Hill), put together a Town Hall meeting for her district, which was attended by hundreds of residents, including residents of districts from Clinton Hill, Ft. Greene, Bed-Stuy, East New York and Crown Heights. The Town Hall was about the migrant issue that has over 4,000 migrants housed in her district, alone. It is estimated that the owners of the shelters in Clinton Hill are earning over $45million from NYC.

Below is an Open Letter from Renee Collymore to Mayor Eric Adams

Renee Collymore by BK Reader Shenal Tissera

Dear Mayor Adams,
As you are aware, I organized a Town Hall Meeting on Monday, May 6, 2024 at the Brown Memorial Baptist Church in Fort Greene/Clinton Hill, Brooklyn. Nearly 1,000 residents showed up to address issues related to the migrant shelter complex located at 47 Hall and 29 Ryerson Sts.

These facilities are in the heart of a vibrant, historic and much-beloved residential neighborhood. They house more than 4,000 asylum seekers, which NYPD Assistant Chief Henderson acknowledged at the meeting is the city’s: “largest concentration of migrants outside of Randall’s Island”. The impact of this concentration – which is indeed unprecedented for a residential neighborhood in the city – is difficult to overstate. Let me share what is absolutely clear and unified from area residents:

Great empathy and support for the migrants. I can hardly express all the goodwill that exists here towards our new arrivals. The volunteer efforts being made to welcome them are extraordinary. And there is considerable heartbreak at the living conditions at 47 Hall St. We heard how the 3200 mostly single men who live there are in open-floor cots with no privacy or even lockers for personal possessions. Shelter neighbors are delivering regular meals to supplement the poor food provided at the complex and the local mosque has been serving
thousands of additional meals. There is a wish here and belief that NYC can do better for everyone.

Deep fear for the decline of one of Brooklyn’s most treasured neighborhoods. Residents shared intense feelings including anger, hopelessness, disappointment, disbelief, rage, sadness, disgust – and ultimately fear – at the decline of this beloved neighborhood. Long time and senior residents spoke about moving away because of the violence, noise, stress, garbage and trespassing. One resident near the shelter is worried about losing her house because she can no longer find renters. A business owner spoke about having to close shop once her lease is done and the Executive Director of the Myrtle BID warned of a mass exodus of businesses along that corridor.

The people of Fort Greene/Clinton Hill contribute greatly to the financial success of our City by paying property taxes. We also contribute by sustaining landmark architecture, quality restaurants, inspiring arts, a beautiful park called Fort Greene Park, a thriving business corridor on Myrtle Avenue, heartwarming places of worship and just an overall exciting place to live. If nothing is done to reduce the concentration of migrants residing here, this is absolutely in jeopardy. There were, also, many attendees at the Town Hall representing Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, Prospect Heights and Downtown Brooklyn. We are all greatly affected.

With this context, our community has organized a list of solutions we pray for your leadership to make happen:

  • Immediately reduce the shelter size in the neighborhood to 400 – aligned with best practices for shelters citywide.
  • House additional asylum seekers in additional right-sized shelters spread across the boroughs.
  • Non-renewal of the emergency, no bid lease for 47 Hall St. with landlords of RXR when it expires March 2025.
  • Audit/review the emergency, no-bid lease with Sela Group at 29 Ryerson before any renewal.

With shelter size reduced to 400, we believe the city would be able to provide humane conditions for new arrivals AND neighbors could be successful hosts – with the following additional support:

  • Require RXR/Sela to provide outdoor gathering areas at their facilities and allow mutual aid groups to distribute food and clothing on  site.
  • Sustain the existing NYPD presence in the area and immediately, place NYPD NCO’s in Ft. Greene Public Housing.
  • Install temporary toilets and fix water fountains at Steuben Park so people can gather there.
  • Add signage in different languages around local parks, particularly regarding adults unaccompanied by children in playgrounds.
  • Engage neighbors at the shelter in supporting migrant orientation, translation and English lessons.

Mayor Adams, I know you are busy and balancing an impossible situation. I know the state and federal governments have an outsized role to play. But everything we are proposing here is within your purview and I have faith that you will respond to our neighborhood with respect. We want to be good partners. Please help to make these requests a reality. Will you help?

Hon. Renee Collymore and Neighbors of Clinton Hill

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