A law in New York that’s been a migrant safety net since the Depression, is under threat putting thousands of people at risk of homelessness as the dreaded New York winter looms.
A Midnight Plea to the Court
The administration of New York City’s mayor, Eric Adams, has asked the court permission to potentially suspend the state’s longstanding “right to shelter” law in specific circumstances.
Housing Crisis Ignited by Border Influx
For weeks, the city has grappled with housing and caring for an influx of 100,000 migrants transported from the southern border.
Sending Migrants to the Streets
The situation reached a critical point earlier this summer when an intake center in Midtown Manhattan struggled to provide adequate housing, leaving some migrants to fend for themselves on the streets.
New York Can’t “House the Entire World”
On 21 September, Governor Kathy Hochul expressed that the right to shelter was not intended to “house the entire world.”
Rights for Migrants a “Relic From the Past”
Mayor Adams aligned with this sentiment, echoing a Staten Island judge who deemed the right a “relic from the past.”
Appeals to Shut the Border
On 1 October, Adams’s chief advisor, Ingrid Lewis-Martin, appealed to the US government to “close the border”.
City’s Argument for Flexibility
The heart of the matter lies in the city’s argument that current housing obligations are “ill-suited” to the present circumstances, limiting the city’s ability to handle crises.
Removing the “Right to Shelter” Law
The request seeks to relieve the city’s “right to shelter” law during a declared state of emergency or when there’s a substantial increase in single adults seeking shelter.
The Uncharted Path Ahead
The potential reversal of the right to shelter raises critical questions about the future of homelessness in New York City, with some predicting a significant increase if the law was to be reduced.
The Right to Shelter’s Unique Role
“There’s a reason why New York City doesn’t have tent encampments,” notes Kathryn Kliff, a staff attorney for the Legal Aid Society. “The reason you don’t see that here is because there is a right to shelter.”
Predicting a Dystopian Outcome
Robert Hayes, who led the fight for the right to shelter in 1979, envisions a bleak future without this safeguard: “Without the right to shelter, we’ll have encampments; police actions tearing down encampments; the subways filled with thousands of people.
The quality of life for all New Yorkers will go to hell in a handbasket.”
Homeless Safety Net at Risk
New York City’s unique right to shelter law, dating back to the Depression, has guaranteed access to shelter with minimum standards, providing a bed, lockers, showers, and toiletries for anyone in the city.
Migrant Rights Advocates Speak Out
Governor Hochul has proposed a program to aid migrant resettlement across the state, and the federal Department of Homeland Security has granted Temporary Protected Status to Venezuelans, allowing them to work without the usual waiting period.
The Ongoing Legal Dance
The coming weeks will determine the course of action as Legal Aid responds to the city’s proposal and a judge sets a court schedule.
Winter’s Shadow Looms
The imminent arrival of New York winter further heightens the urgency of addressing the crisis.
The post Rising Migrant Influx in New York Raises Concerns Over Potential Homelessness Crisis first appeared on Career Step Up.
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