COLONIE, N.Y. (NEWS10) – The recent shakeup in leadership with the company hired by New York City to care for asylum seekers worries asylees and community-based organizations alike. On Tuesday, NEWS10 spoke with local groups and leaders to hear their new concerns going forward.
On September 15, DocGo CEO Anthony Capone resigned. The abrupt exit rippled through the communities where asylum seekers live. Groups that are helping and providing services to asylum seekers said they’ve been told by DocGo that they may be out of their hotel rooms by December.
Maria Pacheco with Allies For Justice confirms that asylum seekers in Rotterdam were told the same thing. “They are being told by DocGo employees that they are going to be in the streets as of December,” she said. “They are very nervous about it and they’re actually quite scared, because December tends to be cold.”
“Definitely concerned as a community,” said Gregory Sheldon, the executive director at Eden’s Rose. “There’s going to be a massive influx onto the streets and into your neighborhoods of people that did not receive what they were supposed to, what that organization was paid to deliver. There’s still a lot of questions.”
Their biggest question: what’s next? NEWS10 talked to an asylee called “Johnson” as he handed out food to some of the community’s most vulnerable. He said that he too feels vulnerable, now. “We don’t know anything about the company, and my biggest fear is that we don’t know where to go. We don’t have any papers,” he said. “What’s going to happen to us?”
Capital Region-based providers and the asylum seekers are not alone in their concerns after the shake-up with DocGo’s leadership. Colonie Town Supervisor Peter Crummy said that he’s got concerns, too.
“The same firm snuck into Colonie at midnight on Memorial Day weekend to drop off these poor folks. I’ve been saying for four months: New York City and this firm don’t care about the health, safety, and Welfare of the folks on the bus,” Crummey said. “Our country is built on immigration, and it is a wanted and welcomed feature of how great the United States of America is. But this is a disaster where the federal government allowed everybody to come in without a plan.”
A spokesperson with DocGo sent NEWS10 the following statement in response,
“The asylee flex housing program provides services to asylum seekers as long as they are needed. HPD has not placed a set time limit on services.
DocGo case managers and leadership have clarified with community-based organizations and the asylees in our program that services will continue until individuals are prepared to graduate from the program.”
William Fowler, a spokesperson from NYC Housing Preservation & Development released the following statement in response to claims that asylum seekers will be kicked out of their hotel rooms.
“New York City continues to welcome thousands of asylum seekers with compassion and care, providing shelter and services to those in need here in NYC and at our upstate sites at no cost to local authorities. Anyone in our care upstate should be reassured that there are no plans to abandon them without anywhere to go.”