Gov. Kathy Hochul’s unwelcome time in the spotlight has seemingly come.
On Friday, lawyers from the city, state and homeless advocacy organizations met in the state Supreme Court to discuss how the city has been handling housing thousands of asylum seekers.
What You Need To Know
- On Friday, lawyers from the state, city and homeless advocacy organizations met in court to discuss the city's response to an ongoing influx of asylum seekers
- The emergency court conference resulted in more emphasis on the state to step up and help with housing incoming migrants
- So far, more than 96,000 asylum seekers have come into the city, with more than 57,000 in the city's care
One result of the conference was a clear message that Hochul needs to take control of the situation.
“One of the problems has been a lack of urgency on the part of state officials and the judge was saying you need to treat this as an emergency,” said Joshua Goldfein, a staff attorney with The Legal Aid Society.
Earlier this week, single migrant men were lined up outside of the Roosevelt Hotel awaiting beds.
The line violated the city’s “right-to-shelter” law, which mandates the city provide a bed to anyone in need, triggering homeless advocates to go to court.
“We saw a situation develop that I think shocked and horrified not only New Yorkers but people all over the world. And we sent a letter to the city demanding that they provide people with shelter and permit them to submit applications,” said Goldfein, who mentioned that some of the migrants were in the line for several days.
The migrants were eventually moved to a church in Long Island City.
State Supreme Court Judge Erika Edwards on Friday ordered that the city submit a proposal to the state listing its needs in terms of staffing, resources and facilities when it comes to helping migrants.
So far, Hochul has provided thousands of national guardsmen, three state facilities and promised $1 billion in funding to the situation, but has mostly been in the background.
Attorneys for homeless organizations say she has the power to do more.
“The governor could immediately issue an executive order that takes control of this, that makes a statewide policy and that prevents local governments from trying to interfere in that statewide policy by creating these local executive orders or resolutions or seeking TRO’s in court,” said Goldfein, citing former Gov. Andrew Cuomo’s covid orders amid the pandemic.
Judge Edwards said in concluding Friday’s conference that there is progress and she is optimistic about the future.
As of Friday, there are no migrants outside of the Midtown hotel.
The city has been able to find space last minute, but it’s unclear how much longer that tactic will work.
In a statement on Friday, Mayor Eric Adams called on state and federal officials to help with the steady influx of migrants.
He noted that without their aid, scenes of migrants waiting outside of shelters could become common.
“Unless the state and federal governments fulfil their obligations to join us and do more in supporting asylum seekers, scenes like the one that broke our hearts outside the Roosevelt may sadly become more common, despite the best efforts of thousands of dedicated public servants to find space for hundreds of new asylum seekers every day, in a city already facing a severe housing shortage,” Adams said in a statement.
There are more than 57,000 asylum seekers in the city’s care.
Overall, the city has opened nearly 200 emergency shelters, including 13 Humanitarian Emergency Relief and Response Centers.
Lawyers from all sides of the case conferenced for about an hour on Friday.
The city has a deadline of Aug. 9 to send their letter to the state. The next court conference is scheduled for Aug. 16.