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Hudson Valley Dem rips Adams after report homeless vets were booted from Newburgh hotel to make way for migrants

May. 15, 2023 By Ethan Stark-Miller

Backlash over City Hall’s bid to bus migrants to hotels in two Hudson Valley towns, as it braces for a potential spike in the number of new arrivals following the lapse of Title 42 last week, continued to mount over the weekend with one upstate Democrat joining the chorus of those criticizing Mayor Eric Adams’ handling of the influx.

On Friday evening, Congress Member Pat Ryan, a recently-elected Democrat who represents Orange, Ulster and Dutchess Counties, blasted Adams’ office in a Tweet following a New York Post report that 20 homeless veterans staying at three Orange County hotels were being ousted to make room for migrants the city is sending there. City Hall, however, disputes that report and an article released Thursday by the Mid Hudson News also undermines the Post’s account

“This is bullsh–t. 20 veterans lost their housing tonight because of incompetence by New York City government,” Ryan tweeted. “I am doing everything I can to ensure these service members have a bed to sleep in tonight. Let me be clear. This will not be tolerated.”

So far, most of the ire over Adams’ plan to bus some of the 65,000-plus migrants who’ve flooded into the city since last year to hotels in Rockland and Orange Counties has come from Republican County leaders of those jurisdictions. The mayor first announced that plan a little over a week ago, as a way to free up space in the city’s overburdened shelter and emergency shelter systems as Title 42 — a public-health rule used to restrict migration into the U.S. — expired last Thursday.

The GOP executives of both counties have brought legal challenges and declared states of emergency, trying to halt migrants from being housed in their areas. Plus the Republican-led municipality of Orangetown was successful in temporarily halting the city’s attempt to place asylum seekers in a local hotel there.

But Ryan is a fellow Democrat, whom the mayor reportedly assisted in a behind-the-scenes fashion in his tight race against a Republican challenger — Assembly Member Colin Schmitt — last fall.

Political consultant Hank Sheinkopf said Ryan may be coming out strongly against Adams because accepting migrants in his suburban swing district is broadly unpopular with his constituents.

“He’s got a constituency that really doesn’t want New York City homeless or migrants in their communities,” Sheinkopf said. “People in the suburbs are not going to say ‘give us your homeless and give us your migrants.’ Why? Because they don’t want to lose their jobs. The fear in the suburbs will be that the migrants and the homeless provide crime and other problems. They’re not going to take that risk.”

Ryan also took an earlier swipe at Adams on Friday in a joint statement with neighboring Republican Congress Member Mike Lawler, calling for the federal government to declare of a state of emergency in New York to get more resources for the state. In the statement, Ryan said communities in the Hudson Valley were given “no notice and no assistance to house asylum seekers.”

The Post’s Friday report cited a homeless veteran advocacy group that said that 20 unhoused former service members staying at three local hotels — 15 at the Crossroads Hotel in Newburgh and another five split between the Super 8 and Hampton Inn & Suites in Middletown — were being booted from their lodgings to make room for migrants coming from the city.

However, Sharon Toney-Finch, the leader of the group — named the Yerik Israel Toney (YIT) Foundation, told the Post that while it was never explicitly stated the veterans were being kicked out of the hotels because of the incoming migrants, she guessed that was the case, given the timing of their departures.

The veterans residing in the hotels were about two weeks into a four week stay until they could be placed into permanent housing, according to the Post’s report.

But a mayoral spokesperson pushed back on that account in a statement to amNewYork Metro. The spokesperson said their office was told no veteran staying at the Crossroads was pushed out of their reserved room due to the migrant program and that none of those individuals were identified as veterans when their reservations were made.

Additionally, the spokesperson said the veterans staying at the Crossroads had closed out their reservations, but some wanted to extend their stays around when the city started busing migrants to Newburgh last week.

“However, due to capacity issues, the hotel wasn’t able to accommodate these individuals, so they not only connected them with a new hotel close by, but made sure to provide any veteran who wanted to continue to stay in a hotel with a $250 credit at that hotel as a gesture of good faith,” the spokesperson said. “We would never want to push a veteran out of a room they reserved, and it’s sad that some have made these false allegations in an attempt to pit our veterans against a vulnerable population like asylum seekers.”

Republican Assembly Member Brian Maher, who represents part of Orange County and serves as a volunteer spokesperson for YIT, said the group rejects City Hall’s contention that the homeless veterans weren’t identified as such.

“YIT has placed homeless veterans in this specific hotel for several years and representatives of the organization spoke to the hotel staff personally,” Maher said. “Those conversations between representatives of YIT and the Crossroads Hotel are not consistent with this statement from the Mayor’s office.”

Mid-Hudson News, however, spoke to the hotel’s manager, who said there were no veterans staying at the hotel and none were kicked out to make room for migrants. They also denied the hotel had any record of credit card transactions for a card number that appeared on a receipt Maher shared with the outlet in an effort to prove a reservation for the veterans had been made.

Ryan is hardly the only upstate pol to slam Adams over allegations he hasn’t effectively worked or communicated with them as he’s tried enlisting their help in housing some of the 40,000 asylum seekers in the city’s care. Adams battled with Republican upstate leaders, including Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus, over his administration’s alleged lack of coordination with their localities in a call last Thursday with over 100 officials from across New York, according to a published report.

This story was updated on Thursday, May 18.

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