The city will limit shelter stays for single adult asylum seekers to 60 days as migrants continue to arrive in the five boroughs, Mayor Eric Adams said Wednesday.
The new policy aims to help adult migrants move out of the shelter system to create space for migrant families with children, Adams said at a news briefing.
“We have no more room in the city, and we need help from the federal government,” he said. “We have been very clear that we need to allow asylum seekers to work, we need the economic support of the federal government, and we need to ensure that there is a real decompression strategy throughout the entire country.”
Adult asylum seekers will start receiving 60 days’ notice that they must find alternative housing “in the coming days,” the mayor said in a news release.
That notice will be “paired with intensified casework services to help adult asylum seekers explore other housing options and take the next step in their journey,” the release said.
One of those options is upstate counties. The city has sued 30 counties over their orders that have prevented asylum seekers from resettling outside of the city. That lawsuit is ongoing.
Flyers will be distributed to newly arrived migrants to “combat misinformation at the border” and to inform them that “the city cannot continue to support the level of service it has been providing,” according to the release.
Adult migrants who cannot find alternative housing after 60 days will have to reapply for shelter at the city’s arrival center, the release said.
At Adams’ briefing, Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom said more than 105,800 people are currently in the city’s care, including more than 54,800 asylum seekers.
More than 90,000 asylum seekers have come through the city’s intake center since the spring, with more than 54,000 still in the city’s care. William-Isom said. The city has opened 188 emergency shelters, including 13 humanitarian relief centers, she said.
Last week, more than 2,800 new asylum seekers arrived in the city, she added.
“Every day we’re struggling to make sure we have places for people, and so we would like to prioritize children and families,” she said.
But the new policy has advocates worried that the city could be skirting the right-to-shelter law that requires the city to provide anyone who is in need of one with a bed. Some opponents say the change could lead to more street homelessness.
In a joint statement released Wednesday, the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless said the new policy “raises many questions and concerns that the city has yet to address,” adding that it was “unclear whether state officials have provided input on what the city proposes to implement.”
“As prescribed by the New York State Constitution, multiple court orders and local laws, both the state and the city have a legal obligation to ensure that people who lack shelter are safe and secure, and protected from exposure to the elements,” the statement said. “We are still reviewing this policy and its legality, and expect to have more to say on the matter at that time.”
In a separate statement, Murad Awawdeh, executive director of the New York Immigration Coalition, called the policy a “short-sighted half-measure,” adding that it would place “unnecessary bureaucratic burdens on vulnerable New Yorkers — instead of offering real solutions that will allow asylum seekers, and all New Yorkers, to build safe and stable lives in the communities they live in.”
“This is a bad policy that will be directly responsible for leaving families homeless and living on the streets,” Awawdeh added.