New York City’s shelter capacity is rising to its highest level in recorded history as more than 60,000 people seeking asylum in the U.S. have arrived in the city within the past year, Mayor Eric Adams said in a press release on May 5.
In the press release, Adams announced a program to provide up to four months of temporary shelter in counties outside of New York City to adult men who are seeking asylum in the U.S.
About a week after Adams’ announcement, multiple news outlets reported that homeless veterans were kicked out of hotels located in Orange County, New York, to make room for migrants. Orange County is about 70 miles north of New York City.
Many VERIFY readers, including Scott and Dan, asked if those reports were true.
Were homeless veterans kicked out of New York hotels to accommodate migrants?
No, homeless veterans were not kicked out of New York hotels to accommodate migrants.
WHAT WE FOUND
The claims about homeless veterans being kicked out of hotels in New York stem from articles, including one in the New York Post, citing the nonprofit Yerik Israel Toney (YIT) Foundation. The foundation’s website says it offers assistance to premature babies and their families, and helps homeless and low-income military veterans with housing needs.
Sharon Toney-Finch, who runs the YIT Foundation, told news outlets that nearly two dozen veterans were kicked out of hotels in Orange County, New York to make room for migrants. Toney-Finch claimed that most of the veterans were staying at The Crossroads Hotel in Newburgh, located in Orange County.
But Toney-Finch’s claims aren’t true, according to New York City officials, Choice Hotels, and an attorney representing The Crossroads Hotel.
“We were informed that no veteran in Newburgh was pushed out of a room they had reserved because of the asylum seeker program. In fact, these individuals were not identified as veterans when the reservations were made,” a spokesperson for New York City Hall said in a statement to VERIFY.
The spokesperson explained that guests at The Crossroads Hotel finished their reservations as planned, but some wanted to extend their stays once the asylum seeker program began.
“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.
The Crossroads Hotel is independently owned and operated, but is part of the Choice Hotels chain. A spokesperson for Choice Hotels also told VERIFY on May 16 that the company was “unable to identify whether any impacted guests are veterans as it does not appear that rooms were booked with any relevant identifying designation.”
The asylum seeker program has prompted lawsuits from Orange County against New York City, The Crossroads and another hotel over claims that the hotels cannot serve as temporary shelters.
VERIFY obtained the court records in the lawsuits and found a letter filed by an attorney for the The Crossroads Hotel.
The signed letter to the judge, dated May 17, said in part “there are not now, and never were, any group of veterans at the hotel and certainly none were kicked out to make way for migrant asylum seekers.”
VERIFY reached out to the YIT Foundation for comment multiple times but did not receive a response.
The New York Post reported:
“I asked her to give her permission to the bank to release the information. She denied authorization,” Maher told The Post. “After two minutes, I called her back and explained how I was feeling about not being able to see that information, and then I asked her if that was something she made up, and that’s when she really had a hard time getting the words out — this is someone who I worked with over the last three years — but she did reveal to me that this is not something that took place.
“Shortly after that, when I asked her why she would make something like that up, she said, ‘I had to help the veterans.’”
VERIFY reached out to Maher’s office for a statement, but did not receive a response by the time of publishing.
A spokesperson for Orange County Executive Steven Neuhaus, who also shared the false claims with news outlets, did not provide comment.
During a press event with VERIFY partner station WGRZ and other news outlets, New York Gov. Kathy Hochul called the fabricated story “deeply troubling.”
“These individuals were sent there with a legal contract between the city of New York and a hotel owner,” she said. “If people want to fabricate stories to undermine the whole process, I think it is reprehensible.”