MIDTOWN EAST, Manhattan (WABC) — Parents of students at a Brooklyn school gathered early Tuesday morning to raise their concerns about migrants being housed in the schools’ gym.
Those parents whose children attend P.S. 172 were notified on Sunday by Brooklyn District 15 superintendent, that the stand-alone gym will be transitioned into a temporary shelter for asylum seekers.
P.S. 172’s gym sits right next to the school yard where children as young as 4 play.
The gym has been undergoing renovations for years and only opened up back in September. Parents now wonder where their kids will have gym classes.
“Obviously these folks need some place to go, but the idea that our kids could lose out on their gymnasium is kind of appalling,” one parent said.
In a letter sent to parents, obtained by Eyewitness news, school officials promised migrant “individuals and families” would be confined to the school’s standalone gym saying: “This should not impact school operations, nor will the families have access to any other part of the school where students and staff are.”
But, some parents are still angry, not seeing how it would be possible for school operations to be separated from the migrants.
“Put them in the people who are elected who put them in place, put them in their backyards because you’ve dumped on us long enough,” another parent said.
Mayor Eric Adams’ office released the following statement:
“As we’ve been saying for months, we are in the midst of a humanitarian crisis, having opened approximately 150 emergency sites, including eight large-scale humanitarian relief centers, to serve more than 65,000 asylum seekers. We received more than 4,200 asylum seekers last week alone and continue to receive hundreds of asylum seekers every day. We are opening emergency shelters and respite centers daily, but we are out of space. As the mayor has said, nothing is off the table as we work to fill our moral mandate, but we should all expect this crisis to affect every city service. We will continue to communicate with local elected officials as we open more emergency sites.”
All of the school gyms being used as emergency shelters are standalone gyms. Parents are expected to continue protesting throughout Tuesday morning.
City officials are turning to schools in Brooklyn as Roosevelt Hotel is being transformed into an arrival center.
The hotel is now opening 175 rooms for families, with plans to open an additional 675 rooms later this week.
Some asylum seekers arrived at P.S. 188 in Coney Island, Brooklyn on Sunday.
About 75 adult migrants are staying in the gym that is not connected to the school and they don’t have access to the school. It’s not clear how long they will be staying.
“I’m Ukrainian myself. And I support refugees,” a parent said. “I think the city should organize the safety for the neighborhood, the city’s responsible.”
But not all parents at P.S. 188 are as welcoming and some family members said it makes them feel uneasy, even if migrants don’t have access to the school.
“God forbid a kid goes missing. What’s Eric Adams going to say? I’m sorry? No, something needs to be done,” said Destiny Martin, sister of P.S. 188 student.
Two other schools will also be used as shelters, P.S. 17 in Williamsburg and a former school in the Clifton section of Staten Island.
Some 300 adults will be staying at the school, which has already been filled with cots.
Officials said P.S. 189 in Crown Heights was also being considered for asylum seekers.
The New York City School Safety Coalition raised safety concerns, saying the move puts students of the school at risk and it’s asking Adams to find other places to house the migrants.
New York City has not been shy about admitting this is a crisis it is dealing with. It took in more than 4,200 migrants just this past week alone as it scrambles to find them shelter, but it is running out of space – and the buses continue to come.
Meanwhile Gov. Kathy Hochul said she has not yet gotten an answer from the Biden Administration on her request use federal space for asylum seekers, including Floyd Bennett Field in Brooklyn, which she said is “one that we think would lend itself to standing up a large scale federal operation.”
NYC is “struggling” and cant handle the burden alone. She is speaking with legislative leaders about offering financial assistance for other counties where migrants have been sent.
ALSO READ| Daniel Penny arraigned on manslaughter charge, enters no plea; Neely’s family attorneys speak out
* Get Eyewitness News Delivered
* Download the abc7NY app for breaking news alerts
Submit a tip or story idea to Eyewitness News