The New York City Asylum Seeker Crisis
Beginning in 2022, New York City saw an influx of asylum seekers that overwhelmed the city’s infrastructure. In the following year, 2023, roughly 100,000 migrants arrived to the city with no place to call home, which, according to the city’s comptroller meant that “New York City [was] seeing an unprecedented number of asylum seekers relying on the City’s shelter system.” This was the tipping point for New York City’s Department of Housing and Preservation Development (HPD), whose existing shelter capacities were strained by the surge of refugees. The budget constraints and lack of a scalable system added complexity to an already challenging scenario and the City had to work swiftly to find a solution.
Partnering with HANYC & Ripe for Emergency Shelter Relief
As an initiative to address the pressing humanitarian need, the City engaged the Hotel Association of New York City (HANYC), along with Ripe, drawing on our extensive lodging software expertise. In July of 2023, HANYC, who focuses philanthropic outreach efforts on crisis relief, began working with Ripe to identify hotel partners and a technology solution that could alleviate the overwhelm shelters were facing.
President and CEO of HANYC, Vijay Dandapani, stated in the New York Post, “The City has made managing the costs of the asylum seeker crisis a priority, so we worked with them to ensure the costs and commitments of housing newcomers in our hotels were as low as possible… We’re proud of the work we’ve done as an industry to aid the City in its mission to care for asylum seekers who arrive in New York.”
Inception of the Ripe Emergency Response Feature
There was a vision of a hotel vouchering system that would connect New York City’s HPD and asylum seekers to available partner hotel rooms, but there was no technological tool available to make that happen. Recognizing the urgency, our team worked tirelessly to build a brand-new ability on our booking engine to meet HANYC’s needs—the Ripe Emergency Response feature.
Implementing Ripe’s Emergency Response feature addressed the immediate challenge of housing shortages and the need to place individuals at scale. By creating this streamlined system, NYC, in collaboration with HANYC and Ripe, was able to negotiate rates with hotels made available to HPD and place authenticated users at scale rapidly.
“In response to our City’s unprecedented challenges, we developed a plan to accommodate asylum seekers in our hotels. The hotel vouchering program emerged as a viable solution, but we still needed a system to execute it. Ripe has been an incredibly reliable partner through it all, translating our vision into a digital bridge and helping bring an organized process in a time of crisis.“
Vijay Dandapani | HANYC President & CEO
Ripe & HANYC Collaboration Impact
Since the implementation of Ripe’s Emergency Response feature in July of 2023, New York City’s HPD in collaboration with HANYC and Ripe, has been able to:
- Reserve over 87,000 room nights through Ripe Emergency Response feature
- Efficiently place over 3,000 individuals, families, and children
- Contract 20 hotels, making their rooms available for emergency shelter
- Relieve pressure on the City’s overwhelmed intake centers and shelters
The humanitarian crisis is ongoing but the City, along with Ripe, HANYC, and the HPD, is working diligently to provide stability to thousands of migrants. New York City recently signed a formal contract with HANYC, and Ripe as a subcontractor, committing to the housing efforts through July.
Proactive Crisis Management with Ripe’s Emergency Response Feature
Ripe’s Emergency Response feature, developed in response to New York City’s asylum seeker influx, is designed to handle large-scale housing needs during urgent situations. Ripe’s specialized system allows for the efficient coordination of clients’ available hotel inventory with emergency housing needs. The groundbreaking tool, slated to roll out to all clients, will provide a solution during crises of all kinds, including natural disasters like fires, floods, and hurricanes. It will empower organizations to proactively configure their tool for efficient implementation should an emergency arise.
“Collaborating with HANYC on the development of the Emergency Response feature was a profound experience. We’re grateful to have been able to provide swift and secure shelter solutions for families in need and the opportunity to create a tool that could not only address the immediate crisis but also serve as a lasting solution for future emergencies.“
Jason Linder | Ripe President & CEO