NEW CITY, NY – Rockland County officials held a press conference today on the recently announced State of Emergency, as first reported by Rockland News.
The State of Emergency will prohibit hotels or motels from housing migrants without a license from the County and prevent municipalities from housing anyone in Rockland without a contract agreement. Violations will result in a fine of $2,000 per migrant per day.
County Executive Day questioned the allocation of taxpayer dollars for up to a year’s worth of housing and services for non-citizens while the cost of living and property prices continue to rise. He called on Mayor Adams and Governor Kathy Hochul to consider offering the same support to low-income families.
Rockland County has already been grappling with the strain on schools, food pantries, housing, and social services caused by the natural migration of undocumented individuals. Although New York City officials claim they will provide short-term funding and services, no comprehensive long-term plans have been shared.
Orangetown Town Supervisor Teresa Kenny emphasized that a New York City-run shelter is not allowed in the Town of Orangetown according to the town code. The town law only permits transients for up to 30 days, and Kenny argued that Mayor Adams cannot override these regulations.
Department of Social Services Commissioner Joan Silvestri expressed concern about the lack of information and planning, stating that New York City should collaborate with other counties rather than sending homeless people to them. She highlighted Rockland County’s low homeless population, a result of hard work and program implementation.
Congressman Mike Lawler called New York City’s decision “morally bankrupt,” noting that while the United States is a nation of immigrants, the current system is “fundamentally broken.” Renold Julien, Executive Director of non-profit Konbit Neg Lakay, stressed the need for a place to stay, work permits, and assistance for these individuals.
Catholic Charities Executive Director Dan Eudene reported a dramatic increase in the demand for services. In April, over 475 households sought help from their food pantry, more than double the number three years ago. Their warming shelter hosted an average of 60 guests per night in February, a 50% increase from previous years. Eudene also pointed out the serious shortage of affordable housing in Rockland County, with Catholic Charities working with over 100 households in 2022 to help them remain sheltered.