NYC mayor’s office promises to look into allegations that company mistreating Albany County migrants

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A spokesperson for City Hall said Tuesday that the New York City Mayor’s Office would look into allegations from Albany County leaders that a company hired by New York City to bus migrants to Albany and provide services to them was instead mistreating them and blocking the county from getting basic information.

“DocGo has been a helpful partner in providing asylum seekers with temporary housing, access to services, and connections to local communities. We expect all contractors to meet the expectations laid out and we will look into these claims,” a city spokesperson said in part.

An estimated 700 migrants have been bused to Albany County from New York City, with many of them now living in several local hotels.

Albany County leaders claim the company hired to take care of migrants is instead not providing proper food and living conditions – and blocking local organizations from communicating with them.

The company DocGo was contracted by New York City to provide services to migrants living in local hotels.

However, local organizations joined leaders to say DocGo has not communicated with the county since June.

Lawmakers and advocates also accuse DocGo of feeding migrants spoiled food and blocking access to assistance after bringing them to Albany under false pretenses. 

Lawmakers pleaded with the federal government to make it easier for migrants to get work and to provide monetary assistance to the organizations working locally to help the migrants.

They also called on New York City to hold DocGo accountable to its contract with the city.

“There is a lack of accountability with respect to the contractor that Mayor Adams and New York City has hired to do this very important work. We don’t see that investment resulting in ensuring that people coming to our community are fed, clothed, have case management and have the services they need in order to be successful,” said Mayor Kathy Sheehan (D – Albany).

City and county leaders said they don’t even have an accurate headcount of how many people are here. They also say some of those people have children.

With Albany schools set to start classes again in about a month, NewsChannel 13 asked leaders if schools are prepared.

Hear their response by watching the video of Stella Porter’s story.

DocGo released the following statement Tuesday night regarding the allegations, saying the company has assembled a team to look into the allegations:

“These recent assertions are the first time DocGo has learned of the issues cited by Albany City or Albany County Officials. DocGo’s CEO has maintained a direct, open communications channel with numerous senior county and city officials that has been used multiple times since the program was launched in late May. In addition to the June 22 meeting, this communication channel was used with senior members of the County Executive’s team approximately three weeks ago, on July 14. No one ever reached out since then to communicate about any of these assertions to DocGo executives.”

Having said this, the assertions, if true, are unacceptable. DocGo has assembled a team to look into these assertions and ascertain the facts. If any of these assertions are found to be true, the company will take actions to ensure they do not occur again. Overall, our program continues to be successful. Our recent polling of over 500 asylees in our care show that over 85% of them like the program and feel they are well supported.  We are proud of those results and intend to work to ensure their satisfaction continues.

In partnership with New York City, DocGo has been working with county executives in municipalities across New York State contracting with Community-Based Organizations and a wide range of local vendors to provide the care and services required to ensure asylees needs are met with care and compassion. In Albany, the vast majority of funds appropriated by New York City for shelter, food, laundry and security are paid to local Albany vendors. Working with a local MWBE-owned partner in Albany, we provide three individually packaged meals per day meeting dietary restrictions, such as halal and vegetarian options, to every asylee in our program at no cost. To date, DocGo has already provided over 25,500 meals to asylees housed in Albany.  All meals meet New York City’s strict nutritional standards. Additionally, DocGo has a dedicated shuttle operating every day that brings asylees to and from medical treatments and ensures access to public transportation.

DocGo’s case managers also coordinate activities including English classes and local legal services, collaborate with local non-profits and community-based organizations to organize therapeutic recreational and social events to enrich the guests experience, build a sense of community and provide supportive services for their transition to a new country.

Since last fall, DocGo, working with New York City, has provided healthcare to 19,000 asylees at locations in New York City and across the state.  Over the past six months, we administered approximately 8,000 vaccine doses to asylum seeking children and adults. We have treated patients ranging from newborn to 75 years old.  DocGo provides every asylee in our care with an initial physical and behavioral health assessment. Additionally, DocGo provides case management support, licensed social workers, onsite security, meals, and additional necessary services to fully meet the needs of the individuals at each emergency site. We strongly believe that the purported concerns raised by the Albany mayor and the county executive are not reflective of the overall scope and quality of the services DocGo has provided and continues to provide on behalf of NYC to the asylees housed in Albany.

DocGo welcomed the Albany mayor when she visited two of our hotels in the early stages of the program. And while local officials have never requested to visit our sites since then, we are extending an offer now to both county officials and the mayor to visit them, so they can witness first-hand the quality of our program and the care we are providing.

We are very appreciative that Albany County has been a welcoming community to the asylum seekers. DocGo appreciates the cooperation provided by Albany County and the City of Albany in support of DocGo’s efforts to provide temporary shelter and care to the asylees. We look forward to continuing to work with the County and City of Albany to ensure the asylees are provided with the shelter and care they need and the compassion they deserve.

DocGo continues to work around the clock to provide vital services for asylees. We remain committed to doing all we can to ensure asylees housed in their county continue to receive housing, medical care, food, case management, social work, ESL, and additional services that help preserve their health and basic human dignity.”

NewsChannel 13 also reached out to the White House for comment, but did not hear back Tuesday.