© 2024
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Republican on Albany County legislature seeks clarity on housing migrants sent north from NYC

The Albany Ramada Inn is one location where asylum-seekers from New York City are being housed.
Dave Lucas
The Albany Ramada Inn is one location where asylum-seekers from New York City are being housed.

An Albany County legislator has introduced a legislative package he says will address transparency and financial concerns surrounding the housing of migrants.

Paul Burgdorf represents District 23, which includes parts of Colonie, where the first busload of migrants to reach the Capital District arrived during Memorial Day weekend. The Republican says New York City has sent busloads of migrants upstate without proper consultation or coordination.

"We found out through third parties that New York City was sending migrants our way to be dropped off in the dark at night on Memorial Day weekend," said Burgdorf. "To me that was absolutely unacceptable. County Executive McCoy had made our supervisor Peter Crummey aware that some of this might be happening. And he has really done a great job standing up for us. But New York City did not listen and did drop off migrants in Albany County."

Burgdorf has introduced two bills. The "Albany County Resettlement Disclosure Law" would require hotels, motels and other venues to notify their local representatives of any intent to house migrants or unhoused people. The second bill would require the county to track the financial impact of migrant settlement.

Burgdorf says should the migrants keep coming, the eventual effect on taxpayers could be substantial.

"So I've asked the County Executive to provide us the information and the growth of any social services costs for the next 90 days, 120 days, 150 days and 180 days, with quarterly reports after that, until the end of 2025," Burgdorf said. "That will provide those of us in county government who act to safeguard the taxpayers’ money, to know what we will be required to pay.”

Democratic County Legislature Chair Andrew Joyce says Burgdorf's package is "an attempt to grab headlines."

"This is an attempt by the Albany County Republican and Conservative conference to capture national level issues, to make themselves relevant amongst the Albany County electorate," said Joyce. "Albany County Executive Dan McCoy had issued an executive order several weeks back to effectively address the newcomers coming to Albany County. The Albany County Legislature has embarked on a supply drive for these individuals that are coming in to Albany County. We're watching it very closely. We are demanding accountability and good communication with these municipalities that are sending these folks here, because Albany County is best suited to provide assistance as we move forward. All of these issues have been addressed."

McCoy's office responded to a request for comment by email, saying “The intent of our Executive Order was to improve communication with New York City. That has occurred. We are already coordinating with localities. We have just received this proposed legislation and it’s under review by our Department of Law.”

Joyce says the package will be referred to a committee for further discussion.

"At this point, I don't believe this legislation is geared towards helping folks or saving money or reaching our core goals as elected officials. So I'm not going to be supporting it, " Joyce said.

Officials say there are approximately 250-300 migrants now in Albany County, with most concentrated in Albany and a few dozen in the Town of Colonie.

Democratic Albany Mayor Kathy Sheehan says the Sanctuary City is helping the newcomers get settled.

"We continue to see our community based organizations do incredible work to ensure that asylum seekers have access to the information and resources that they need to be successful, and to be able to pursue their dream of coming here working and making a life for themselves in this country," said Sheehan. "And I think that any efforts that are designed to facilitate that are important, and that we need to ensure that as we think about the needs of our community, the needs of this region for workforce, that that is all part of the conversation around how we can assist asylum seekers in being successful and in being able to come here and help grow our community. And by extension, our economy."

Sheehan says the city has not seen any additional migrants arrive. Burgdorf says New York City’s original plans to send hundreds of migrants to Colonie apparently have ceased at this time.

Dave Lucas is WAMC’s Capital Region Bureau Chief. Born and raised in Albany, he’s been involved in nearly every aspect of local radio since 1981. Before joining WAMC, Dave was a reporter and anchor at WGY in Schenectady. Prior to that he hosted talk shows on WYJB and WROW, including the 1999 series of overnight radio broadcasts tracking the JonBenet Ramsey murder case with a cast of callers and characters from all over the world via the internet. In 2012, Dave received a Communicator Award of Distinction for his WAMC news story "Fail: The NYS Flood Panel," which explores whether the damage from Hurricane Irene and Tropical Storm Lee could have been prevented or at least curbed. Dave began his radio career as a “morning personality” at WABY in Albany.