New York City’s schools are bracing for big changes as thousands of migrant families face imminent limits on their shelter stays.
According to a spokesperson from City Hall, since October 27, approximately 2,700 families have been informed that they must either reapply for shelter or seek alternative housing within 60 days, potentially starting as early as December 27.
This new policy, advocated by Mayor Eric Adams to address shelter overcrowding due to a surge in asylum-seeking migrants, presents a major logistical challenge for the city’s schools.
At a Wednesday, November 29th, city council hearing, Education Department officials outlined their efforts to manage the impending student reshuffle, particularly in Manhattan, where many shelters are located.
Flavia Puello-Perdomo, overseeing students in temporary housing, emphasized, “While we can’t fully control all the implications of the 60-day rules…as much as possible we’ll ensure every family is aware they have the right to stay in their schools.”
The city is mandated by federal law to provide transportation for homeless students, enabling them to continue attending their current schools. However, the city’s school bus system’s reliability is a concern, and arranging such transportation can be complex.
Although New York City has allocated $625,000 for transporting approximately 200 asylum-seeking children from the large tent shelter at Floyd Bennett Field to schools, school officials expressed concerns as their costs through October have already exceeded the previous fiscal year’s total by 43%.
The Department of Education is funding additional bus services at a cost of $1,500 per vehicle to transport these children from the shelter in an area known as a “transportation desert” to nearby subway stations. Once there, the children use city-provided MetroCards to continue their journey to school.
The shelter at Floyd Bennett Field, which costs $1.7 million per month to operate, is currently home to about 620 asylum seekers, 195 of whom are children.
Councilwoman Shahana Hanif criticized the distant placement of students from their schools and the challenges posed by transportation staffing shortages.
Hanif said, “Due to the already existing transportation staffing shortage, it is difficult to arrange adequate busing for students at their new addresses.”
Educators and advocates also fear the city’s migrant limit policy could have severe educational impacts.
The city’s Education Department faces the daunting task of tracking the movement of these families, many of whom may not have stable communication means, to ensure continuity in their children’s education.
With over 360 shelters in the city and only about 100 community coordinators, the department is challenged to keep up with the rapidly changing situations of these families.
Schools may have to deal with increased absenteeism and the need to transfer students to new schools, further complicating the issue.