Mayor Eric Adams called the city’s legal obligation to house asylum seekers into question on Wednesday as officials prepared to open a sixth relief center for migrants in Manhattan.
A new Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center for migrant families with children is set to open at the Paramount Hotel in Times Square later this week, elected officials told NY1.
But as officials worked to get the site on West 46th Street up and running, the mayor suggested that the city’s right-to-shelter law — which guarantees temporary housing for those without it — did not extend to asylum seekers.
What You Need To Know
- Mayor Eric Adams called the city’s legal obligation to house asylum seekers into question on Wednesday as officials prepared to open a sixth relief center for migrants in Manhattan
- On WABC’s “Sid & Friends in the Morning” radio show, Adams said his administration "[did not] believe asylum seekers fall into the whole right-to-shelter conversation"
- The mayor's remarks drew swift condemnation from advocacy groups, including the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless
“Now, when we talk about a sanctuary city that is codified in law, there was a lawsuit, and this is a state and city of law and order. The courts rule that this is a sanctuary city. We have a moral obligation to fulfill that,” Adams said on WABC’s “Sid & Friends in the Morning” radio show.
“[But] we don’t believe asylum seekers fall into the whole right-to-shelter conversation,” he added. “This is a crisis that must be addressed based on what was created on [a] national platform.”
The remarks by Adams, who previously called on the city to “reassess” its shelter practices in light of the ongoing migrant crisis, came a week and a half after he declared that there was “no more room in New York” for asylum seekers.
His comments Wednesday drew swift condemnation from advocates.
In a joint statement provided to NY1, the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless said the policy was “not a responsibility that Mayor Adams can decide to shirk, and he knows better.”
“Anyone in need of shelter, including asylum seekers, is entitled to such, as prescribed by multiple long-standing court orders and local law,” the statement said. “Flouting the law would accomplish nothing and such a move would only land this administration in front of a judge for contempt.”
Responding to their statement, Adams’ press secretary, Fabien Levy, said the “suggestion that the city is flouting its legal obligations couldn’t be further from the truth,” but did not clarify the administration’s stance on right-to-shelter for migrants.
“If this humanitarian crisis was simply a right to shelter issue, then only New York City would bear the responsibility for providing for these individuals,” he wrote. “But, as we have made clear for months, and as the Legal Aid even said today, the federal government has an obligation here, as does the state.”
Approximately 42,000 asylum seekers have arrived in the five boroughs since the spring, Levy said.
Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, meanwhile, released his own statement Wednesday saying New Yorkers “have a right to shelter, including our newest and aspiring New Yorkers.”
“My hope is that the administration continues to focus on upholding that right and not on undercutting it,” he said. “While it is clear that the current situation is unsafe, unsustainable, and in dire need of state and federal support, this is not a justification to abandon our legal and moral obligation to provide quality shelter to people — all people — most in need.”