Brooklyn’s Democratic Party leader is implicating race and class in the city’s refugee crisis, claiming that the wealthier, white neighborhoods in her district cannot afford their fair share of housing.
“With dwindling resources that are quickly being exhausted, this situation is untenable unless our entire district comes together to help. because we must address the pandemic and other crises,” said a statement from local Democratic leader Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn and the Brooklyn Democratic Party organization.
“Let’s spread the love the Brooklyn way,” Bichotte Hermelyn said in the letter, obtained by The Post.
“We recognize the important feedback from Brooklynites who support the establishment of migrant shelters in communities at Fort Hamilton Army Base, Bay Ridge, Brooklyn Heights,
Marine Park and Manhattan Beach,” the press release states.
“We are committed to recommending these neighborhoods in Brooklyn and similarly expanding to underutilized areas in New York City, throughout New York State and other communities across the United States.”
The statement from Bichotte, also a state representative from Ditmas Park, Flatbush, East Flatbush and Midwood, is sure to raise eyebrows in political circles because she is considered a close ally of New York City Mayor Eric Adams, whose administration is overseeing site selection.
Her comments also throw down the gauntlet to other elected representatives who live in or represent the neighborhoods targeted by her and her party leaders for failing to bear their share of the burden of addressing the city’s refugee crisis.
Prosecutor Jumaane Williams, for example, lives in an apartment complex at the US Army garrison base Fort Hamilton in Brooklyn.
Councilman Lincoln Restler, a left-wing progressive Democrat, represents Brooklyn Heights.
Two council members — Democrat Justin Brannan and Republican Ari Kagan — are running against each other to represent Bay Ridge in a newly redrawn district in November.
Republican City Councilwoman Inna Vernikov represents Manhattan Beach.
Kagan defended his opposition to the construction of migrant shelters in southern Brooklyn and accused Bichotte Hermelyn of engaging in divisive racial politics.
“It is a terrible policy that incites race-baiting. “There is a backlash against shelters all over the city,” Kagan said.
“My position was clear from the start. “I reject the opening of emergency shelters and tents in our parks, recreation centers and school gymnasiums,” said the politician.
Kagan said the “root causes” of the relentless influx of migrants flooding the city must be addressed — and that should have been done a long time ago.
“I call on the federal government to secure the border. We must return to a legalized and orderly immigration system,” said the Democrat-turned-Republican city councilman.
He also said the city should end its sanctuary and “right to shelter” policies, which help asylum seekers and also migrants who cross the border illegally.
Councilman Brannan said Tuesday evening: “The City of New York is already doing more than its share. “Singling out communities and pitting neighborhoods against each other is neither helpful nor a solution to an international humanitarian crisis.”
Restler criticized Bichotte Hermelyn’s statement and pointed out that there were shelters for migrants in parts of his district.
“Instead of trying to divide our communities, the borough leader should focus on uniting Brooklyn residents as we work together to welcome and support the influx of migrants,” the councilman said. “I am proud that our community welcomes new migrant shelters in north Williamsburg and Boerum Hill, as well as new homeless shelters in Downtown Brooklyn and Greenpoint.”
The mayor’s office declined comment on Bichotte’s comments, but provided The Post with a borough breakdown showing that Manhattan and Queens hosted many more migrants than the more populous Brooklyn.
Of current asylum seekers in shelters, 43% are in Manhattan, 30% in Queens, 14% in Brooklyn, 7% in the Bronx, 2% in Staten Island and 4% outside the city.
A City Hall insider said elected officials — including the mayor and council members — were hearing complaints from their base of black, Hispanic and white working-class voters about housing distribution.
“They are feeling the pressure from black and brown voters,” the source said of the politicians.
For example, two Brooklyn lawmakers — state Sen. Roxanne Persaud and state Rep. Jaime Michael Williams, both of whom are Black — are fighting a plan to house migrants in a camp at Floyd Bennett Field in the district.
Bichotte Hermelyn noted in her statement that lower-income neighborhoods already had a disproportionate number of homeless shelters before the migrant crisis and said the wave of asylum seekers has only exacerbated the burden.
The data shows that the higher the poverty rate in a neighborhood, the more homeless shelters there are, the statement said.
“Brooklyn is a welcoming beacon of diversity and hope. It is home to millions of immigrants who make up over 35% of our population,” the statement from the Bichotte Hermelyn-Kings County Democratic Party said.
“We call on all communities to offer their assistance as we work with the federal government to help everyone seeking shelter in Brooklyn resolve this crisis.”
Prosecutor Williams and City Councilor Vernikov did not initially comment.