The New York City Council recently proposed a bill that would eliminate any time restrictions on how long asylum-seeking migrants can stay in the city’s homeless shelters.
This legislation is being tabled as a countermove to Mayor Eric Adams’ recent enforcement of a 30-day stay restriction for single adult migrants.
Mayor Adams has justified his decision as a necessary step to create more availability in the city’s already stretched-thin shelter system.
The bill’s principal advocate, Councilmember Shahana Hanif, who also chairs the Council’s immigration committee, vehemently opposes Mayor Adams’ time limits.
Expressing her concern, Hanif said the limits are “counterproductive, cruel, and unjust,” citing that the 30-day stay restriction sets a “dangerous precedent.”
She further emphasized the struggles of the migrants, stating, “These notices are creating further chaos and confusion for a group of people who are here to start new, safe lives, dignified lives.”
Alongside Hanif, several council members, including Lincoln Restler, Jennifer Gutiérrez, Carmen De La Rosa, Crystal Hudson, Pierina Ana Sanchez, Sandy Nurse, and Julie Won, have voiced their support for the bill.
The bill also received endorsements from prominent homeless service providers such as WIN and Coalition For The Homeless and influential legal advocacy groups, namely the Legal Aid Society and Urban Justice Center.
The bill states, “No agency shall impose limits on the length of time an individual or family may reside in [a] shelter or emergency congregate housing.” To be eligible for this provision, individuals or families should continuously meet the temporary housing aid criteria.
This legislative proposal is being introduced at a time when the Adams administration is pursuing a path to provisionally suspend NYC’s long-standing right-to-shelter protections, specifically for single adults. This protection was enshrined in a 1981 court decree.
Many advocates for the homeless and migrants caution against Adams’ legal move, suggesting it could have a significant “ripple effect,” compromising what they deem is the essential right to shelter.
Responding to the criticism, the Adams administration has highlighted that the 1981 protections were not envisioned to cater to the substantial volume of migrant arrivals currently being experienced.
The statistics indicate that more than 120,000 migrants have reached the city since spring 2022, with about 63,000 of them residing in local shelters.
Highlighting the fiscal implications, Mayor Adams has drawn attention to the upcoming wave of arrivals from the United States’ southern border and the consequent strain on the city’s finances.
He projected that the costs associated with sheltering these migrants in over 200 emergency locations established by the city would skyrocket to over $12 billion by June 2025, a burden largely to be shouldered by city taxpayers.
Adding to the discourse, City Hall spokesperson Kayla Mamalek commented on the bill, saying the proposal “would be disconnected from the reality our city is dealing with every single day.”
She further warned, “This bill, as described, if passed, would hurt the city’s response to this crisis.”
However, Hanif offers a counter-argument, positing that the current stay limits could inadvertently hike the city’s expenditures.
She explains, “Evicting folks doesn’t free up shelter space because we know that people are coming back to the Roosevelt intake center to get placements.”