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Temporary housing for migrants set up at Orchard Beach in the Bronx

Emergency housing for migrants being built in the Bronx
Emergency housing for migrants being built in the Bronx 02:37

NEW YORK -- Construction crews are building temporary housing in the Bronx for migrants.

The emergency center is going up at Orchard Beach, and while some local residents are voicing concern, CBS2's Tim McNicholas says other people are looking at ways to help.

The Bronx borough president says it will take at least two weeks to finish construction. When it's open, it will be an intake center where single adult migrants can find food, medical care, case work help and temporary shelter.

Contractors worked for more than three hours Monday afternoon in the Orchard Beach parking lot.

"We have the space. I don't see anything wrong with this," said David Diaz, a board member with the nonprofit City Island Rising.

The organization near Orchard Beach wants to help asylum seekers however possible.

"We're waiting on a list now from the mayor's office to see what exactly is needed. We'll do a clothing drive. We'll do a food drive," he said.

The city says adults will be able stay at the center for up to four days before moving to other housing.

RELATED STORY: NYC opening 2 emergency centers for arriving migrants  

The plan is sparking debate among people living nearby.

"This is our social point in the winter. We come here, we get fresh air, and my concern is are we still going to have access to what we use all season?" one resident said.

"Our concerns are safety, security and health reasons," said Bill Stanton, president of the City Island Civic Association.

The association plans to meet Tuesday night with councilmember Marjorie Velázquez to ask several questions.

"Is New York doing the proper background screening, the vetting? Are they doing criminal background checks? And if they are, how so?" Stanton said. 

"My first thought isn't about, 'Oh my god, have we checked them out?' My first thought is to say, what can we do?" Diaz said.

Some others have expressed concerns about the housing conditions for the migrants.

"There should be a more substantial housing for them. They shouldn't be forced to live in a tent," one person said.

Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson told CBS2 off-camera the Orchard Beach parking lot is not an ideal location due to flooding issues in the past. Nonetheless, she said she's working with the mayor's office to make sure migrants get the help they need and to ensure the center is sturdy enough to withstand wind and rain.

Gibson plans to visit the site herself Tuesday.

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