Governor Kathy Hochul’s office has accused Mayor Eric Adams of not doing enough to address the migrant crisis.
The conflict arises at a time when the state finds itself under scrutiny in a legal dispute concerning the right to shelter, coupled with calls for intensified efforts to alleviate the crisis from both the city and support groups.
Scathing Letter Points to Failures
In a letter sent late Tuesday, August 15, to a judge presiding over a court case aimed at ensuring shelter for homeless individuals, Hochul’s lawyer, Faith Gay, slammed Mayor Adams for his alleged shortcomings in managing the crisis.
The letter accused Adams of being slow to act, highlighted his delay in setting up shelters, and blamed him for his slow response to state offers for assistance, including shelter sites that could house up to 3,000 migrants.
The letter also pointed out his failure to utilize a $25 million state resettlement program meant for 1,250 households and his neglect to use $10 million in state funds for programs to assist migrants in obtaining asylum and work authorization.
According to the letter, the situation was further exacerbated by allowing hundreds of migrants to sleep on the street outside The Roosevelt Hotel when beds were available elsewhere.
“It is true that they did not accept some of the help we offered,” Hochul stated in the letter.
State’s Rebuttal to City’s Accommodation Concerns
While Mayor Adams emphasized the city’s struggle to find sufficient accommodation for migrants, the state countered this claim, revealing that potential shelter locations were presented to New York City officials in October 2022, but were disregarded.
State’s Actions and Continued Commitment
The letter from Governor Hochul’s office outlined various measures the state has taken or proposed to assist New York City with the surge in asylum-seekers.
It criticized the city’s assertion that more needs to be done by the state, particularly highlighting its move to send migrants to other counties without proper coordination or notice.
On Tuesday, the city unveiled a new emergency shelter site at the Creedmoor Psychiatric Center in Queens, fully funded by the state, and constructing a “tent city” at Randall’s Island, also financed by the state.
The state affirmed its continued commitment to providing the funding despite “substantial questions” regarding the conduct of DocGo, the company that was awarded a $432 million contract by the city to address the crisis.
Detailing the state’s commitment to the crisis, Governor Hochul’s attorney outlined $1.5 billion in pledged funds, urging the city to ensure their effective deployment.
The lawyer stated, “The city did not prioritize this critical effort. Had the city done so, it is likely that thousands more migrants would be able to work today.”
Additionally, the state accused the administration of Mayor Adams of procrastination, indicating that the city had neglected a recommendation from June last year to establish a “tent city” for adult male migrants.
Governor’s Disagreement with Relocating Asylum Seekers
On the other hand, Mayor Adams has called for the governor to persuade other localities to accept asylum seekers, which Hochul strongly disagrees with.
In the letter, Hochul highlighted a discussion she had made verbally: that the state does not believe the law mandating shelter for those in need extends beyond New York City’s five boroughs.
Hochul stated, “Let’s be very clear — you cannot involuntarily take people from the city and send them all over the state of New York.”
She emphasized that New York City, already at the breaking point with over 101,000 asylum seekers, is the best place for them due to more job opportunities, public transportation, and English as a second language programs.
City’s Counterargument and Need for Collaboration
The city countered some state offers, citing economic impact and other concerns. Deputy Mayor Fabien Levy called for more assistance from the state, including more space and a statewide order preventing localities from blocking asylum-seekers’ relocation.
Mayor Adams’ Response and Emphasis on Collaboration
Mayor Adams, however, refrained from criticizing Hochul and emphasized the collaboration between the City and the state.
He maintained that he is open to suggestions, stating, “If her [Hochul’s] observations are that there’s something you can do differently, we are all in.”
He added, “One thing is no one stated that we did not do; we housed more than 100,000 people, unlike any other city.”
Legal and Aspects of the Crisis
The letter exposed tensions between officials, shedding light on a disagreement when New York’s shelter system has grappled with nearly 100,000 migrants since last spring.
The letter also highlighted the state’s stance that the right-to-shelter regulation requiring housing for the homeless does not apply beyond New York City.
This move follows the replacement of Attorney General Tish James by Gay’s private law firm in representing the state after James declined to defend the state’s position.
The clash between Hochul and Adams’s administration is part of a court suit over the right to shelter, with a hearing scheduled for next week that could significantly impact crisis management.
Housing advocates, public defenders, and various stakeholders urge city and state officials to work together and seek assistance from the Biden Administration.