NYC mayor plans to BYPASS decades-old law which says city will give a bed to anyone who asks for it
The mayor of New York City is planning to override parts of the 40-year-old ‘Right to Shelter’ law guaranteeing a bed for anyone who needs it, as the city braces for an expected influx of migrants when Title 42 is lifted on Thursday.
Eric Adams and his team are scrambling for solutions, with 61,000 migrants having arrived in the city in the last year.
Thursday’s lifting of the pandemic-era border control policy is likely to see yet more arrivals, and New York is struggling to house the newcomers. On Monday, heads of city agencies were asked to provide a list of potential shelters: among the suggestions were the Flatiron Building, tents in Central Park, and hangars at JFK airport.
On Wednesday, a homeless advocacy group said they had been told the ‘Right to Shelter’ law, enacted in 1981, would be partially overruled, via executive order.
Eric Adams, the mayor of New York, is planning to sign an executive order to loosen the requirements of the ‘Right to Shelter’ law, Gothamist reported on Wednesday
Migrants gather between primary and secondary border fences on Wednesday, as the United States prepares to lift COVID-19 era Title 42 restrictions to end this week
Migrants reach out from the border fence to try and get their phones charged while stuck between primary and secondary border fences
The right, The City explained, is not an administrative policy or a law created by a bill; it is the result of years of litigation, in three separate cases, which ended with the city agreeing to provide shelter.
In the first case, in 1979, the plaintiffs argued that Article 17 of New York State Consolidated Laws, which covers Social Welfare, obliges the government to provide adequate shelter.
For single unhoused people, the city at a minimum is required to provide ‘congregate’ shelters, which are arranged dormitory style. For families, the city must provide a room with cooking facilities and a bathroom.
Adams, like many of his predecessors, has expressed frustration with the law: David Dinkins in 1990 and Rudy Giuilani in 1999 tried to tinker with it, and Michael Bloomberg unsuccessfully went to court in 2005 to remove the court order underpinning the right to shelter.
In September, Adams said the ruling ‘must be reassessed’.
Joshua Goldfein, an attorney for the Legal Aid Society, told Gothamist he had been told on Wednesday afternoon by an attorney in the Department of Homeless Services that Adams was intending to sign an executive order.
Goldfein said the order would allow families to be housed in congregate shelters, if there was no other option.
The order would also lift the timeframe restrictions.
Currently, the city has to provide shelter by 4am for families arriving by 10pm.
A bus carrying the migrants from Texas arrives at the Port Authority bus station of New York on May 3
The iconic Flatiron Building in Manhattan is among those suggested as possible migrant shelters. Its owner quickly said that was not possible, as the building is undergoing renovations and has been gutted
‘We are bracing for some turbulent times ahead,’ Ron DeSantis said on Wednesday. ‘When you have a president that has turned a blind eye to the border’
News of Adams’s plan came as the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, signed a strict immigration bill in his state in to law.
The law provides $12 million for DeSantis’ migrant relocation initiative, which received national attention last year when the governor and his state paid to fly 50 mostly Venezuelan immigrants from Texas to Martha’s Vineyard in Massachusetts.
He said he was highlighting the migrant issue.
Democrats accused him of making political pawns of vulnerable asylum-seekers and trying to score political points with the Republican base.
The governors of Texas and Arizona have been sending buses of migrants from their states to New York.
Adams, in turn, has provided buses to take migrants to the border with Canada, and to upstate counties – Rockland and Orange.