The Post reported on May 15, 2023, that the New York City health ministry had issued a letter urging staff to volunteer at various temporary emergency sites as city-run immigration shelters were overwhelmed by the high number of asylum seekers. The letter stated that the city’s shelter system had reached its breaking point and issued an urgent temporary emergency to provide short-term assistance. As a result, the health department asked employees to help by volunteering at emergency shelters overseen by the New York City Emergency Management Department.
The letter specified that employees who wanted to volunteer during working hours would not be paid for that time, and they would have to ask their superiors if they could miss “traditional duties” before raising their hands. Workers who offered to take on work outside of working hours could be eligible for overtime, but the manager must first approve the volunteer request. The letter also stated that the city intended to provide 24-hour assistance on the ground, with health department volunteers being asked to help staff on shifts from 8 am to 8 pm or from 8 pm to 8 am.
The letter called on employees to help with tasks such as greeting asylum seekers upon arrival at shelters, directing them to cot spaces, and their next destination, as well as coordinating medical needs. Fluency in Spanish was noted as a plus, but all employees were welcome to support the effort. It was not immediately clear which city-run facilities would be staffed with volunteers.
The call for help came as the City of Big Apple confronts an influx of immigrants. Two buses carrying about 90 migrants from Brownsville, Texas, arrived in Manhattan early Monday morning. The city said that in addition to recent arrivals, more than 65,000 immigrants had flocked to the Big Apple over the past year, with over 39,400 asylum seekers sheltered in one of the city’s 130 emergency shelters or eight relief centers as of May 10.