Migrant children housed in old NYPD academy gym in apparent violation of shelter rules: ‘It’s not safe’

Several migrant families with children were housed this weekend in an old NYPD training facility in apparent violation of long-standing rules prohibiting the city from hosting children in common areas, the Daily News has learned.

The gym at the old Police Academy facility on 20th St. in Manhattan was modified last week to house adult male asylum seekers as the city’s shelter and emergency housing systems remain overcrowded due to the continued influx of migrants.

But Josh Goldfein, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society’s Homeless Rights Project, told The News he saw a migrant walk into the facility with a child on Sunday.

Goldfein, whose group serves as the city’s de facto watchdog on local shelter regulations, said he alerted officials in Mayor Adams’ administration shortly after his discovery — and was then told that “several” migrant families with children in the gym were housed.

“It’s not clear to us whether this was done on purpose or by accident,” Goldfein said, adding that he was told the city planned to remove the families from the gym on Monday.

Adams administration spokesmen did not immediately return requests for comment.

Decades-old state rules mean that children can only be housed in family-style shelters with separate rooms that provide privacy.

There are “very good reasons” for those rules, Goldfein said.

“As we saw during [Hurricane] Sandy, if you have children who sleep together, children were exposed to sexual assault. That’s the whole reason why the state won’t allow this in the regular shelter system,” Goldfein said, recalling that Legal Aid represented a client whose child had been sexually assaulted at one of the community emergency shelters the city operated after the 2012 storm.

“Anytime there is a situation with children in shelters, it is a disaster for those families and the city should do everything it can to prevent that,” Goldfein added. “It is not safe.”

The childcare at the NYPD facility comes as the Adams administration scrambles to accommodate the tens of thousands of mostly Hispanic migrants who have arrived in the city since last spring.

The population of the local shelter system is at an all-time high of nearly 80,000, according to Department of Homeless Services data. The city also houses thousands of migrants in hotels, spending millions of dollars every day.

Still, Adams has said the city is running out of space, forcing his administration to take drastic action as hundreds of new migrants arrive each week.

On Friday, the mayor announced his administration will house some willing migrants in two hotels the city rents in upstate Orange and Rockland Counties. That announcement was met with fierce opposition from Republican leaders in the state, who claim they have no room either.

The city is also bracing for the expiration of Title 42 this week, a Trump-era policy that has prevented many migrants from seeking asylum in the US.

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