Sunday, May 14, 2023, 3:09 am
MIDTOWN EAST, Manhattan (WABC) — New York is in crisis mode – looking for space everywhere, trying to become a sanctuary city.
It is now being converted into a high-rise hotel that will open hundreds of rooms for children and families later this week.
The Roosevelt Hotel – with its elegant design – on Madison Avenue has witnessed nearly a century of New York history.
“The Grande Dame of Madison Avenue—that’s what she was called,” said the porter, Sal.
Sal was a doorman at the Roosevelt for 23 years until its doors closed permanently due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I met people from all walks of life here. Befriended many celebrities to this day. Then you go from that to something completely different, and I was an immigrant myself,” Sal added.
The closed hotel will now be used for temporary accommodation of migrants. The city is turning it into a central reception center for the hundreds of asylum seekers bused in daily.
“I came here the same way they did — basically with nothing,” Juan Gonzalez said.
Gonzalez also came to live the American dream. He and his wife arrived from Colombia many years later and are not convinced that New York is capable of providing asylum seekers with the opportunities they seek.
“I definitely want people to be helped. But I also see a social problem when everyone comes. You know, there are too many people and I don’t see the city being able to offer the kind of support that they’re looking for,” Gonzalez said.
The city has not been shy about admitting that this is a crisis it is dealing with. It has taken in more than 4,200 migrants this week alone while it tries to find them shelter, but it is running out of space – and the buses keep arriving.
Mayor Adams hopes the hotel will provide the additional support needed to combat the crisis.
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