Police and building inspectors have unearthed an illegal shelter for migrants located within a commercial building in the Bronx, marking the second such discovery in New York City within a span of just two days. This makeshift shelter, situated on East Kingsbridge Road in the Fordham neighborhood, was found to be housing dozens of individuals in conditions deemed unsafe by authorities. Upon inspection, officials identified 34 beds on the first floor and an additional 11 in the basement, revealing the extent of the overcrowding issue.

Conditions and Immediate Actions

Illegal Migrant Shelter Discovered in Bronx Commercial Building
Migrants took shifts in sleeping to avoid overcrowding the area, concluded to be generally unsafe for the number of people housed within the makeshift quarters

The Department of Buildings (DOB) highlighted several safety concerns that led to the issuance of a vacate order for the premises. Among the hazards cited were the lack of natural light and ventilation, and the presence of extension cords, e-bikes, space heaters, and hotplates, all contributing to what was described as “hazardous, life-threatening conditions.” The discovery of such conditions highlights the ongoing challenges migrants face seeking affordable housing and the risks posed by illegal conversions of commercial spaces into living quarters.

Response and Support for Displaced Migrants

Following the vacate order, the city’s Office of Emergency Management has been actively coordinating a response to assist those affected by the closure of the illegal shelter. Efforts are underway to assess the displaced individuals’ urgent needs and provide them with referrals to asylum-seeker services, ensuring they receive the necessary support during this transition. The migrants, many of whom had been paying significant sums for the substandard accommodation, were observed gathering their belongings, highlighting the precarious living situations faced by many in the city.

The existence of the illegal shelter was well-known among local residents, with some neighbors reporting daily interactions with the migrants living there. The revelation that occupants were paying between $300 and $600 a month for such accommodations has sparked discussions on the exploitation and vulnerability of migrants in search of safe and affordable housing. The closure of this shelter, while addressing immediate safety concerns, also raises broader questions about housing accessibility and the need for comprehensive solutions to support the migrant population in New York City.