New details on the cost of emergency shelters on Randall Island show that housing asylum seekers on docked cruise ships could cost the city millions and have unintended environmental impacts. It raises questions about feasibility.
According to Mayor Eric Adams’ office, the proposal to house asylum seekers on cruise ships docked on Staten Island’s waterfront was put forward several weeks ago and is still an option.
No details were available on how the cruise ship plan would work. But a review of previous use of cruise ships in emergencies and past controversies surrounding ships in New York City shows that they are very expensive to operate and bad for the environment. .
Staten Island Borough President Vito Fossela told city officials that a deal with a cruise ship was not imminent but was under consideration as it could be more affordable than building a tent shelter. .
“For lack of a better wording, it was cheaper to get a cruise ship than to build these tents,” said Fossela, who opposed the proposal. doesn’t know anything about numbers or anything like that.”
But it’s unclear why cruise ships are more affordable than tent structures or housing homeless asylum seekers in hotels.
In Mississippi, FEMA temporarily housed people displaced by Hurricane Katrina in trailers on private property, according to a 2007 report from the US Government Accountability Office.
Federal officials also signed a controversial six-month deal with Carnival Cruise Lines to temporarily accommodate more than 8,000 people on a ship docked in New Orleans. The agency paid Carnival $236 million.
On Tuesday, city emergency management commissioner Zak Iskoll said the city spent about $650,000 to dismantle asylum-seeker tents in flood-prone Orchard Beach and reassemble them on Randall’s Island. I have confirmed that
“The mayor has made it clear that he is considering many options for tackling this crisis. A city hall spokeswoman said.
A spokesperson for Norwegian Cruise Line confirmed that the mayor had approached the company about renting a cruise ship, but “no agreement has been reached.” It was leased for six months and focused on mooring at Stapleton’s Homeport Pier near Waterfront Park on the North Shore of Staten Island.
Asylum seekers are temporarily housed there before being placed in the city’s shelter system.
The New York Post reports that the city is currently in talks with other cruise companies, including Carnival, which the company denies.
“Carnival Cruise Lines has not discussed any of our ships being used for charters, including New York,” a company spokesperson told Goshamist.
Taking a cruise ship while docked also raises environmental concerns. For example, ships at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal have long received complaints from Red Hook residents.
A single cruise ship idling in port produces as much diesel exhaust as 34,400 idle tractor-trailers. According to a 2019 New York Times report, cruise ships off the Brooklyn waterfront produce 1,200 tons of carbon dioxide, 25 tons of nitrous oxide, and tons of harmful particulate matter each year.
Adam Armstrong, who said he recently moved from Red Hook because of cruise ship pollution, said the area around the terminal has been bearing the brunt of the industry.
“It’s all bordering on a very dense residential population,” said Armstrong. “Brooklyn has the largest her NYCHA complex, and a community that’s already pretty much affected by all sorts of factors, not just the environment, but the socio-economics. It’s kind of crazy.”
The majority of ships docked at cruise ship terminals in Brooklyn and Manhattan use diesel fuel, which has been linked to asthma, cancer and other serious health conditions, according to the Environmental Protection Agency. Red Hook cruise ships rarely use grid-connected, greener “plug-in stations,” he confirmed to Con Edison. There is no such station on Staten Island.
Carolina Salguero, founder and executive director of the nonprofit PortSide New York, emphasized that cruise ships that stay in New York City waters for extended periods are very different from ships that load and unload passengers. She wondered about sewage treatment and whether asylum seekers had access to clean water on cruise ships.
Red Hook representative Alexa Aviles opposed plans to put migrants on cruise ships.
“Winter is approaching. Can you imagine being given the option of staying on a cruise ship in New York Harbor in the dead of winter?” Aviles said. “It makes no sense at all. How do people get on and off? The whole thing is just ridiculous.”