Church to Become Staten Island Leaders Protest Migrant Housing

Local authorities have harshly criticized a plan to house migrants at a church on Staten Island. The Faith United Methodist Church on Heberton Avenue in Port Richmond will house fifteen beds that will be used as an overnight shelter for unmarried adult men who are applying for asylum in the United States, according to a Monday announcement from the authorities. Several community leaders, including Vito Fossella, the president of Staten Island Borough, have expressed objection to this decision.

Fossella vented his annoyance at a press conference outside the church, alleging that local authorities were only made aware of the plot last week. He thinks the community will suffer as a result of the project. Fossella said, “This approach is hurtful to the community and its people.”

Fossella was joined by other notable individuals, including Councilman David Carr and Councilwoman Kamillah Hanks. The opposition from the political leaders was unified, highlighting the lack of information provided to the community about the establishment of the refuge. Hanks maintained that these choices damage the stability and confidence of the community.

She said, “The people in this district are sick of waking up to decisions that have been made behind their backs, compromising community cohesion and safety.”Hanks also questioned the church’s fitness as a refuge, pointing out possible dangers to one’s health and safety, such as inadequate ventilation and fire hazards. She said, “Faith United Methodist Church lacks the infrastructure and facilities necessary to house occupants safely and comfortably.”

Residents of Staten Island have already demonstrated against a migrant refuge. Residents rejoiced in October when migrants were evacuated from the St. John’s Villa Academy shelter after the FDNY declared a fire hazard. Plans to open a 57-bed migrant shelter at Rosebank’s St. John’s Episcopal Church were shelved earlier this year because of opposition from organizations that fight illegal immigration.