The father of one of the world's biggest stars has waded into the immigration debate.
In recent months, hundreds of migrants have been relocated to a dormitory on New York City's Upper West Side where, according to restaurateur Joe Germanotta — better known as Grammy and Oscar winner Lady Gaga's dad — residents' quality of life has been going downhill. Joe — who's lived in the affluent area, along with wife Cynthia, for 35 years and also owns and runs Joanne Trattoria eatery there — spoke to the New York Post to explain his stance.
As he tells it in a story published on Aug. 9, the problems started six weeks earlier when NYC turned the Stratford Arms Hotel — which had been a residence hall for the American Musical and Dramatic Academy and is just down the block from Joe's home — into a shelter for 500 migrants. "It was a stealth operation. They were bused in the middle of the night, like when they flew them into Westchester, they didn't want anybody to know what was going on," he shared. "It was all pretty rapid."
He said that the migrants have been throwing block parties outside their hotel that run into the early morning hours, that people are recklessly riding e-bikes and scooters on one-way streets and that evidence of prostitution has emerged. Girls as young as 14 are getting catcalled and residents are dealing with verbal abuse too, he alleged. There's also trash piling up on what used to be clean streets. It's all causing property values to drop and leaving residents feeling helpless, Joe explained. "They're guests in our neighborhood and they have basically taken over," he said.
"Hookers are coming and going. In the mornings, you see prostitutes coming out of the building," he said, adding that "the worst part's at night" because of "the noise," which "starts at about 10 o'clock" and goes "until 4 in the morning." Joe also said they're "playing music and racing their motocross and motorbikes up and down the streets."
If things were like this when Joe was raising his daughters — Lady Gaga (real name: Stefani Germanotta) and Natali Germanotta — "I wouldn't be living in New York," he said.
According to the businessman, "The dormitory students at the school, the American Music and Dance Academy, were given two weeks' notice that they had to get out, and none of the residents in the neighborhood were given any notice about the migrant shelter." He believes that about 500 migrants are living in 400 rooms that are only large enough for a bed and refrigerator and that everyone is sharing bathrooms — a typical college dorm setup.
Joe made it clear that his issue is not that the migrants are in his neighborhood. It's that the city isn't dealing with the issues that have emerged nor is there a plan to restore order, he claimed. "I think, for the most part, the 500 that are in there are good people," Joe explained. "And I think they're locked into very small rooms and when they get out, they go out at night, and they party."
He added, "I don't mind having them there. They're gonna be there for three years. That was the contract, I understand. But at least manage it. Put the proper security in place, have a police presence and a code of conduct."
Joe is the board president of his building and, along with other neighboring residences, is lobbying City Hall for better policing and supervision while the migrants are there. He also has some advice for NYC's mayor: "In my opinion, you should have just suspended 'sanctuary city' status until we had enough housing and then said, 'Yeah, OK, you can send some more,'" Joe told the Post. "It's a joke. Why doesn't he get one of the cruise ships? The cruise ships hold more people, and it's a more controlled environment. The city is spending a tremendous amount of money that could be spent towards building affordable housing."