Since April 2022, thousands of migrants have been bused to New York City from Texas. These migrants struggle with language barriers, cultural barriers, housing, food, and health insurance. With neither family nor friends in the area, they are left to navigate New York City’s sprawling government system and non-profit sector alone. Public Health Solutions bridges the gap with staff members who are diverse and share similar backgrounds.
Carlos*, a Venezuelan migrant, had walked to Texas from Venezuela with his wife and two children because Venezuela was undergoing a financial crisis that made it so difficult to provide for his family that taking the risk of walking to another country for six months seemed safer than staying in his home country. However, when he and his family arrived in Texas to seek asylum, they were detained by US Border Patrol and sent to NYC by bus.
At first, he and his family stayed in Midtown Hotel in Manhattan but were later sent to live in a temporary shelter in the Bronx provided by the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs for asylum seekers from Central and South America. In yet another new place, unemployed and with no money for food or health insurance, he was feeling lonely and forgotten.
In his search for food for his family, he attended an event held by the New York Common Pantry, where he was able to access food pantry services. While there, he met Ronaldo and Wendy, PHS NYC Care Coordinators, who assisted with his health insurance needs.
Ronaldo, who is also South American, provided much needed support. As a recent South American immigrant himself, he spoke Spanish, shared a similar cultural heritage that allowed he and Carlos to gain a mutual understanding, and was aware of the nuances of where Carlos had come from and what Carlos might need in the future. After connecting him with NYC Care, Ronaldo sent referrals to other organizations to connect him with IDNYC through REAL ID.
Carlos says, “I had been feeling lonely and forgotten but I feel much safer now that I have healthcare and someone to ask about my needs.”
The coming months will be difficult, as we grapple with the end of pandemic SNAP benefits and the loss of Medicaid for millions of Americans, but PHS has multilingual, multicultural staff members who share lived experiences with their clients and are eager to provide individualized help. We are ready.