Queens Furniture Store Basement Found Housing Dozens of Migrants During Building Inspection

During a city building inspection on Monday night, 74 adult men from West Africa were discovered living in the basement of a Queens furniture store. The commercial space on Liberty Avenue was found to be equipped with over 40 beds. City officials, upon completing the headcount, relocated dozens of asylum seekers to a migrant shelter in the Bronx. Ebou Sarr, the shop owner, acknowledged providing shelter to the migrants out of compassion, as he felt they would be displaced from shelters after 30 days. Sarr expressed pride in the hardworking individuals and their challenging circumstances.

Ebou Sarr, the shop owner, clarified that he did not charge rent to the migrants but required them to adhere to ground rules, such as no cooking or charging e-bike batteries inside. Additionally, he asked them to contribute $300 monthly towards a fund aimed at leasing a larger space for their accommodation. Despite Sarr’s assurances regarding safety, neighbors expressed concerns and lodged complaints.

One neighbor, preferring anonymity, attempted to discuss the matter with Sarr but found him unresponsive. After weeks of contacting 311, she eventually reached out to the mayor’s office to report concerns about e-bikes posing fire hazards and generating noise. Of particular concern to her was an enclosure erected in the backyard, obstructing her window and impeding ventilation. Another neighbor voiced apprehensions about the noise generated by the men, especially during instances of drinking and smoking, which occasionally led to disturbances.

City agencies reported relocating 40 men to a Bronx shelter, while the shop owner, Ebou Sarr, claimed a count of 74 individuals. There is a possibility that some of the others may have found alternative accommodations. Milick Ndiaye, a migrant from Senegal, shared that after spending two months in Sarr’s basement without concerns of eviction, he opted to spend the night on the subway, considering it a preferable option to shelters due to financial constraints.

Sarr noted that the men staying in the basement did not wish to leave but felt compelled to do so. According to him, they expressed reluctance to undergo a similar experience, and many contacted him the following morning, detailing the challenges they faced in finding alternative places to stay. Sarr emphasized that they were coping and handling their situation as best as possible.

Mayor Eric Adams and Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer addressed the discovery of men residing unlawfully in a furniture store as an unfortunate consequence of the city’s housing crisis. Mayor Adams emphasized the need for increased construction to address the shortage of housing, highlighting the importance of preventing desperate living situations.

The store in question has received vacate orders, and the Department of Buildings (DOB) issued two violations. While the shop remains open, it is prohibited from accommodating residents. Neighbors who raised concerns expressed relief, as the situation had become overwhelming. Mayor Adams stressed the city’s commitment to responding and taking necessary action in collaboration with DOB, FDNY, and other services to address such incidents.



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