The city has finalized a lease agreement with the federal government to use Floyd Bennett Field in southeast Brooklyn to shelter migrants, Mayor Eric Adams announced on Friday.
The deal comes three weeks after the White House initially agreed to allow the city to use the former naval air station, which is now a greenspace managed by the National Park Service.
Gov. Kathy Hochul, one of the main drivers of the deal, agreed to reimburse the city for the cost of using the site. She first asked the federal government to use the location back in May.
Both Adams and Hochul have been pleading for federal aid to help mitigate the mounting costs of the migrant crisis since last year.
In a statement announcing the Floyd Bennett Field deal Friday, Adams said the federal government could do more and characterized the use of emergency shelters to house migrants as an untenable fix.
“Let’s be clear: If the federal government were to issue an emergency declaration, additional federal space and funding would become available to better manage this crisis,” Adams said.
“Further, as I have said before, because we haven’t seen meaningful policy changes that would alter the course of this crisis, we’ve been forced to unsustainably open new site after new site as asylum seekers continue to arrive by the thousands. This is not an adequate solution or any sort of long-term plan by the federal government to this national problem.”
In addition to requesting more funding, Adams said he would continue to advocate for expedited work authorizations for migrants.
Neither the city or state will be paying a rental fee to the federal government, Hochul said when the agreement was first reached. The lease is to clarify that the federal government is not transferring ownership of the land.
The agreement to use the site as a shelter for asylum seekers did not come without controversy. Just one day before the final lease was signed, a rally took place at the field to oppose housing migrants there. Similar protests have taken place on Staten Island, Brooklyn and Queens, as shelters were proposed or established.
Shortly after the mayor’s announcement, councilmember Joann Ariola expressed outrage over the agreement, citing safety concerns as the main reason for her opposition.
“As promised our injunction to stop this will be filed on Monday for all the reasons we’ve been discussing, especially safety,” she said in a video on X, the social network formerly known as Twitter.
“Floyd Bennett Field is a flood zone. Anyone who is on Floyd Bennett Field in a residential capacity, which it is not zoned for, is at risk of being washed away,” she said in a video posted to X. “Our communities have made our voices heard. That didn’t stop the mayor from signing the lease. Now we will take it to court, and we will win.”
Details of the temporary shelter were not immediately available on Friday.