This past year, over 100,000 asylum seekers have come to New York City, creating what Mayor Eric Adams has called a “state of emergency.” In 2019, there were a “record-breaking” 61,415 people living in shelters. Today, that number is over 160,000 people. The population influx since 2022 has sent shockwaves throughout New York, taxing its shelter system with a 200 percent increase.
As shelters burst at the seams, the New York–based firm DXA Studio announced this week that it will facilitate the construction of “two new emergency shelters to house migrants in New York City” a press release said. One shelter will be built at the Creedmore Psychiatric Center in Queens to house 1,000 migrants. The other will be located on Randall’s Island and accommodate between 2,000 and 3,000.
DXA Studio will work closely with the Office of Emergency Response and the Department of Health and Hospitals on the project to shelter asylum seekers. Both shelters will be temporary, however, and provide “sleeping quarters, dining and recreation areas, and a clinic.” Their forthcoming buildings in Queens and Randall’s Island will build upon DXA Studio’s existing track record of building emergency shelters. To date, the firm has successfully completed similar projects throughout Africa and Haiti. Recently, DXA Studio also released Liv-Connected: a new micro-housing prototype that can be assembled quickly and affordably in disaster situations.
“Getting involved with these shelters was neither a design or a business opportunity for our firm,” said Jordan Rogove, a founding partner of DXA Studio in a statement. “This was purely a humanitarian decision. This is an emergency. It is unacceptable for these asylum seekers to be living and sleeping on our city streets, and time is of the essence – every moment that passes is one too long to bring this to fruition.”
Rogove further notes that, to date, there isn’t really a playbook for building this type of quick-construction, high-density, temporary housing in New York City. DXA Studio says its role will be helping federal agencies navigate the city’s often Byzantine building codes and zoning laws, and strategize how to build these much-needed asylum shelters as efficiently as possible.
“Our processes are not designed for this,” Rogove added. “To make something like this happen requires weaving a patchwork of empirical exceptions to the rules and to do so quickly. We are seemingly in a transitional period in which we need to adapt to issues such as climate change, mass migration, and disaster relief – whose effects we are all feeling with more regularity – and our regulatory systems need to adapt much more quickly to provide better, more comprehensive responses to situations like this,” Rogrove continued. “As a result of these challenges, we’ve had to be vigilant in keeping life safety and the health and well being of the migrants at the forefront of consideration, and not let it be sacrificed for the sake of expediency.”
New York City is among 600 other municipalities in the U.S. which calls itself a “sanctuary city.” A sanctuary city is one that has particular agreements with the federal government which limits law enforcement’s ability to crack down on undocumented individuals. New York is the largest sanctuary city, while Los Angeles and Chicago follow in a close second and third.
New York’s sanctuary city status opens it up to federal investment that it wouldn’t otherwise have access to. But amid the migrant crisis, Mayor Eric Adams says that Washington D.C. isn’t doing enough to help. At an April 2023 press conference, Adams didn’t mince any words when he said “The president and the White House have failed New York City on this issue.”
The collaborative project between DXA Studio, the Office of Emergency Response, and the Department of Health and Hospitals could signal that POTUS is finally stepping up to the plate.
Following this week’s announcement, the design and construction of the emergency shelters will commence shortly.