According to a nonprofit organization working with struggling homeless veterans, nearly two dozen ex-military individuals have been forced to leave upstate hotels to make room for migrants. Among them is a 24-year-old man who served in Afghanistan and is now in desperate need of assistance.
The hotels informed the veterans earlier this week that their temporary housing arrangements were being terminated, leaving them to find alternative accommodations, as confirmed by the nonprofit group.
Sharon Toney-Finch, CEO of the Yerik Israel Toney Foundation, expressed her distress over the situation, stating, “Our veterans have been placed in another hotel due to what’s going on with the immigrants.” Toney-Finch, a disabled military veteran herself, established the YIT Foundation to raise awareness about premature births and provide aid to homeless and low-income veterans in need of housing support.
Toney-Finch recounted receiving distress calls from the affected veterans, explaining, “One of the vets called me on Sunday… He told me he had to leave because the hotel said the extended stay is not available. Then I got another call. We didn’t waste any time. That’s when we started on Monday to organize when and where to move them all.” Clearly upset by the situation, she admitted to shedding tears the night before speaking with The New York Post.
Fifteen veterans were reportedly asked to leave the Crossroads Hotel in Newburgh, located about 60 miles north of New York City in Orange County, which has become a new focal point for the city’s migrant crisis. The relocation of migrants to this area has been met with opposition from local officials. The remaining five veterans were split between the Super 8 and Hampton Inn & Suites in Middletown. While the Middletown hotels were not hosting migrants at the time, they were rumored to be on the city’s shortlist to house them.
Although the hotels did not explicitly state that the veterans had to vacate their rooms to make way for migrants, Toney-Finch believed the timing strongly suggested such a connection. All 20 displaced veterans have since been relocated to a hotel in the Hudson Valley, approximately 20 minutes away. The Crossroads Hotel, Super 8, and the current lodging facility for the veterans declined to comment when contacted and Hampton Inn did not respond to a voicemail message.
Toney-Finch revealed that the original plan was for the veterans to stay at these hotels temporarily for up to four weeks while permanent housing options were explored. However, they were forced to leave after only two weeks. She expressed concern about the loss of trust resulting from this incident, particularly since many of the veterans are from the Vietnam era. Her organization constantly assists them in obtaining benefits and integrating into society.
Assemblyman Brian Maher, a Republican representative for Orange County, emphasized the importance of shedding light on the issue. He stated, “We need to make sure these hotels know how important it is to respect the service of our veterans before they kick them out of hotels to make room… They really ought to think about the impact on these people already going through a traumatic time… Whether you agree with asylum-seekers being here or not, we can’t just ignore these veterans that are in our charge that we are supposed to protect: the New Yorkers and Americans. We need to put them first.”
Toney-Finch suspected that the motivation behind displacing the veterans was financial. She noted the disparity between what her organization pays for veteran housing ($88 per day) and the potential payments made by the city for housing migrants, which have been reported as high as $190 per night. While the specific costs of accommodating migrants upstate remain uncertain, estimated expenses of $4.3 billion for taxpayers through spring 2024 have been mentioned in previous reports regarding deals between the city and Manhattan hotels.
The recent decision by Mayor Eric Adams to bus migrants to the Crossroads Hotel in Newburgh has sparked a heated dispute between Adams and officials from Orange and neighboring Rockland County. The mayor had also contemplated busing migrants to Rockland County until a lawsuit temporarily halted the plan.