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Coats, hot meals handed out to asylum seekers in New York City

Coats, hot meals handed out to asylum seekers in New York City
Coats, hot meals handed out to asylum seekers in New York City 02:09

NEW YORK -- As New York City calls on the federal government to step in and help with the asylum seeker crisis, we are seeing more devastation on the streets with many migrants struggling to find food, shelter and warm clothes.

On a cold, rainy December night, desperation for warmth and shelter could be seen in the East Village.

Some of New York's newest migrants eventually got coats and hats from staff at Assemblymember Harvey Epstein's office on Avenue B.

It comes after long lines at the former St. Brigid School on East Seventh Street earlier in the day. Many migrants who have reached their 30-day stay limit at city shelters are waiting to get re-processed into a different city facility.

Community organizations handed out hot meals to many waiting out in the cold, and cell phone videos obtained by CBS New York show coats being given out, at times being thrown into a second-floor window to men inside the building, and at one point, food was being handed through the window as well.

"Folks who were inside already who still needed a coat, but they were already inside getting processed, couldn't come out. They were worried because they weren't gonna get a coat when they came back outside," Epstein said. "Over the last week, we've seen an increase of people who are trying to get shelter ... out in the cold, half of them didn't even have jackets on."

As New York City continues to grapple with the asylum seeker crisis, even slashing 5% from every city agency's budget, city data shows of the more than 140,000 asylum seekers that have arrived in the city since last spring, half have become self-sufficient and over 16,000 have filed for work authorization and temporary protected status.

"They're not sure where they're gonna sleep tonight and they're not sure what the temperature is gonna be," Epstein said.

But as we approach the winter months and thousands of migrants still arrive every month, coats and somewhere warm to sleep will be a challenge for the city's newest New Yorkers.

"We have a federal problem that needs federal solutions," Epstein said.

Epstein says his office will be doing another drive next week. They're taking donations of coats, hats, gloves and scarves.

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