This week, the city continued to push to be relieved of its requirement to provide shelter to those in need.

In court Tuesday, lawyers for the city asked for permission to make a motion to change the long-standing law.

What You Need To Know

  • The city's right to shelter law, requiring the city to provide a bed to anyone in need, was discussed in court on Tuesday
  • The city is looking to amend the law amid the ongoing influx of migrants
  • Lawyers for homeless New Yorkers say the law is a necessary protection that should not be changed
  • Separately, the city announced that CityFHEPs holders can use their rental vouchers across the state

Lawyers for homeless New Yorkers said the law is a necessary protection that should not be changed.

“The right to shelter protects people, their lives, their livelihood, their well-being. It protects people from being harmed by the elements,” said Josh Goldfein, a staff attorney with The Legal Aid Society.

The city first went to court in May this year, arguing that the right to shelter needs amending as thousands of migrants have flooded into the city.

Since then, the state and federal government have stepped up their aid by granting shelter sites like Floyd Bennett Field. The federal government also recently granted temporary work authorizations to thousands of Venezuelans.

Lawyers from The Legal Aid Society say these changes, including a relocation program, need time to yield results.

“[Gov. Kathy Hochul] outlined a plan to relocate people. The program is underway and people are moving in it,” Goldfein said. “We are hopeful that we will see these steps that make up the governor’s plan be successful and that additional resources will be made available to make it even more effective. That would solve the problem and the law in the abstract.”

Judge Erika Edwards didn’t issue a final ruling in the case, but she did order the city to write a letter to the state, lawyers from The Legal Aid Society and the court detailing the changes they want when it comes to the right to shelter law.

The letter is due to the court by Oct. 3, with responses due Oct. 11 and Oct. 18.

One unexpected twist is that Judge Edwards recused herself from the case.

“The judge felt that she could not be impartial in this case, and we have to take her at her word,” Goldfein said.

Meanwhile, Goldfein also said Tuesday that a ruling against the right to shelter on Staten Island regarding the use of a school will ultimately fail.

“The decision in Staten Island is wrong on the law, on the facts. We do not expect it to stand,” Goldfein said.

Separately, Mayor Eric Adams formally announced that rental voucher holders will be able to use their vouchers across the state. The change in policy was first reported by NY1.

City and state officials hope the change will open up much-needed space in the city’s shelter system.

“They can transition to apartments that are available then you can make space in the interim for the migrants who are there,” Hochul said earlier in the day at an unrelated press conference.

Under the expansion of the program, the city would fund the vouchers and they would be based on fair market rates of each locality.

The city says they are currently funding vouchers for 30,000 households in the city.