Mayor Eric Adams reaffirmed his belief on Thursday, September 28th, that the city’s right-to-shelter policy does not cover the recent influx of migrants as his administration seeks to restrict the duration of shelter stays and actively discourage new entrants.
During an interview with WABC77 radio host Sid Rosenberg, Adams remarked, “I don’t believe the right to shelter applies to a migrant crisis,” referencing the 1981 mandate that requires the city to offer shelter beds to all those in need.
His statement emerges amidst the city’s appeal of a Staten Island Supreme Court decision. Judge Wayne Ozzi’s ruling, prompted by debates over using the closed Saint John Villa Academy catholic school as a migrant shelter, suggests that the right-to-shelter should not encompass new migrant arrivals.
In his ruling, the judge described the shelter guarantee as “an anachronistic relic from the past” that was “intended to address a problem as different from today’s dilemma as night and day.”
This ruling was temporarily suspended when City Hall contested it in a higher court.
While Mayor Adams concurs that the migrant wave shouldn’t fall under the right-to-shelter, he takes issue with other facets of Judge Ozzi’s ruling.
Specifically, Adams voiced concerns over Ozzi’s evaluation that the current predicament is a direct result of the city’s policies.
Adams stated, “He stated that we created this emergency by allowing people to come here. Anyone knows that I cannot deny people from coming here. So, we need to peel apart the entire ruling, the comments that he made, and make sure we don’t allow them to stand.”
The mayor and his team have previously raised questions about the right-to-shelter and have been attempting to modify parts of this mandate.
On the day Judge Ozzi issued his verdict, the city’s lawyers were in the Manhattan Supreme Court aiming to recalibrate the right-to-shelter parameters for migrants.
Corporation Counsel Sylvia Hinds-Radix will lead the city’s review of the ruling, with plans to submit their findings and requests to the court by Tuesday, October 3rd.
Additionally, the city administration has also revised its policy, now capping shelter stays for newcomers at 30 days, shortened from the earlier 60-day limit established in July. Migrants without subsequent accommodations can approach the arrival center for an additional, duration-bound placement.