City of New York files revised application to temporarily suspend right to shelter law

Under the decades old right to shelter law, the city must supply a bed to all those in need. The policy was put in place more than 40 years ago to help unhoused New Yorkers.

News 12 Staff

and Faith Graham

Oct 4, 2023, 11:56 AM

Updated 255 days ago


The City of New York filed a revised application on Tuesday to have the city's right to shelter law lifted temporarily as the city continues to deal with the migrant crisis.
Under the decades-old law, the city must supply a bed to all those in need. The policy was put in place more than 40 years ago to help unhoused New Yorkers and as a result, it has kept many off the streets.
However, Mayor Eric Adams and critics of the law say it was not meant to be used during unprecedented times like this where the city is welcoming thousands of asylum seekers each week. If lifted, the city would no longer have the burden of sheltering migrants so long as the shelter hits a certain population.
The court filing comes as the city has welcomed more than 122,000 asylum seekers since spring of last year. Adams estimates the influx will cost the city an estimated $12 billion over the next three years.
“To be very clear, the city is not seeking to terminate Callahan; we are simply asking for the city’s obligations to be aligned with those of the rest of the state during states of emergency. For more than a year now, New York City has shouldered the burden of this national crisis largely alone. We have opened more than 210 emergency sites, have spent more than $2 billion to date, and expect to spend $5 billion by the end of this fiscal year without significant and timely help from our state and federal partners," Mayor Eric Adams said.
The court filing has already caught the attention of local advocacy groups who are upset with the decision.
The Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless issued a joint statement saying in part, “The City’s shameful revised application would go far beyond limiting its obligation to provide some form of emergency shelter to asylum seekers and other new arrivals. If successful, the City would have the ability to declare an emergency, and effectively end the Right to Shelter for thousands of New Yorkers - including working poor individuals who rely on the shelter system and, alarmingly, individuals who rely on disability benefits. This abhorrent and unnecessary maneuver is a betrayal of the City’s commitment towards ensuring that no one is relegated to living - or dying - on the streets of our city."

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