In Upstate New York, 20 homeless veterans were booted to the street as the hotels prepared to receive an influx of illegal immigrants. Fifteen of the vets were temporarily housed at Crossroads Hotel in Newburgh, a city in Orange County that has been affected by the migrant crisis. The other five were housed at the Super 8 and Hampton Inn & Suites in Middletown.
The veterans were promised four weeks of temporary housing, funded by the non-profit group Yerik Israel Toney Foundation, as they prepared to reintegrate into society and find permanent housing solutions. The vets were two weeks into their stay when they were kicked out of the hotels.
The veterans were notified that they would need to find new housing just ahead of the expected migrant surge expected following the expiration of Title 42. They were not given any options by the government to secure new temporary housing.
New York State Assemblyman Brian Maher, R., described the situation the homeless vets faced, saying, “At the end of the day, when it comes to this particular situation, you had combat veterans who were homeless, who were told to get out of their hotel.”
Maher goes on to implicate the state and federal government, adding, “So the Biden administration, Governor Hochul, and the city of New York, they all have a part in this, and it’s a total embarrassment. It’s a slap in the face to veterans, to citizens of New York in this country, who are really being cast aside to allow for asylum seekers to come here.”
A mayoral spokesperson pushed back on the situation, claiming that the hotels were unaware of the veteran status of the displaced service members. The spokesperson also claimed that the choice to end the reservations was made by the veterans.
Per the spokesperson, “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 went on to add, “We would never want to push a veteran out of a room they reserved, and it’s sad that some have made these false allegations in an attempt to pit our veterans against a vulnerable population like asylum seekers.”
Maher, a volunteer for the Yerik Israel Toney Foundation, negates this claim by the mayor’s office. “YIT has placed homeless veterans in this specific hotel for several years and representatives of the organization spoke to the hotel staff personally. Those conversations between representatives of YIT and the Crossroads Hotel are not consistent with this statement from the mayor’s office.”
Sharon Toney-Finch, the CEO of the Yerik Israel Toney Foundation, worked tirelessly to mitigate the situation. She strongly believes it’s about the financial reward for the hotels involved. “They want to get paid more,” Toney-Finch said. “That’s so unfair, because at the end of the day, we are a small nonprofit, and we do pay $88 a day for a veteran to be there.”
Manhattan hotels have been receiving payments of up to $180 per night to house illegal immigrants, with an estimated cost to the taxpayers of $4.3 billion dollars through the spring of 2024.
Recently elected Democratic Congressman Pat Ryan expressed his outrage over the mishandling of the situation. He took to Twitter, posting, “20 veterans lost their housing tonight because of incompetence by the New York City government. I am doing everything I can to ensure these service members have a bed to sleep in tonight. Let me be clear. This will not be tolerated.”
One of the affected vets is a 30-year-old displaced service member who was part of the botched pull-out in Afghanistan. Maher noted, “And by the way, one of these veterans, 30 years old, he was there for the Afghanistan pullout. For me, one of the most embarrassing moments for our country in our history. And after getting home, he was kicked out of this hotel trying to reintegrate back into our society.”
The young veteran’s story mirrors another embarrassing moment in United States history when Vietnam veterans were tragically neglected following their homecoming. Toney-Finch explains that some of the veterans are, in fact, Viet Nam Vets who are once again receiving callous treatment. “A lot of them are Vietnam veterans. We do help them on a constant basis to get them benefits and help them find a place in society.”
While the government and the hotels did not explicitly state that the homeless veterans were getting cast aside for illegals, the short notice just days ahead of the expiration of Title 42 can’t be coincidental. Unsurprisingly, hotel officials had no comment on the situation. All 20 homeless vets have been relocated to a hotel in Hudson Valley.