Earlier last week, Mayor Eric Adams called for federal help with what he said was an influx of 2,800 refugees who were making it difficult for New York City to meet its legal obligation to house those in need. That is called right. To shelter
Mr Adams said the influx was partly due to migrant families “arriving on buses sent by the governments of Texas and Arizona”.
The mayor’s comments set off his latest political conundrum, this time against a national backdrop: His claim sparked a back-and-forth with those states’ governors. A similar charge Washington DC Mayor Muriel Bowser made headlines a few days ago.
But advocates for the homeless said Mr. Adams’ strategy of blaming the increase in the shelter population on immigrants is a distortion that distracts from the city’s homeless crisis and leaves vulnerable families in the middle. .
Late last week, the city admitted it violated the Right to Shelter Act when four families slept overnight at a homeless intake center. The Legal Aid Society said it could not recall such a breach since at least 2014.
And on Wednesday, there were more than 48,600 people in the shelter system, down from just under 46,000 in May.
The image of children sleeping on hard plastic chairs in an office lit by fluorescent lights evokes a decadent New York era, an image that Mr. Adams wants to erase in order to attract the Democratic National Convention in 2024. will The effort may already be hampered by the perception – which he sometimes propagates – that serious crime in the city is spiraling out of control.
One city councilwoman, who chairs the council’s immigration committee, said the city’s failure to build an adequate amount of affordable housing “shouldn’t be blamed on people fleeing violence from other countries.”
Some facts are not disputed. The number of migrants arriving at the southern border last month was the highest in years. At the same time, it’s not unusual for the shelter census to spike this time of year because families doubling up in overcrowded apartments are often asked to move at the end of the school year.
The city also struggles with staffing issues that slow down the processing of applications for shelter spaces, as well as landlords who won’t accept vouchers for permanent housing, leaving space in temporary shelters empty. Will happen – all while trying to create and open up new housing options, often in the face of local opposition.
Other signs of trouble were evident. The Legal Aid Society asked Gary P. Jenkins, the commissioner of the Department of Social Services, in a July 11 email to say that on July 6, there were about 30 available units for shelters for families with children. Why is the rate less than 1 percent? Keeping the vacancy rate at 3 percent is the best goal for maximum flexibility, Legal Aid said.
Mr. Adams said at a news conference Thursday that the city is working hard to house homeless families, adding that it is “not acceptable” that four families sleep overnight in the intake center. Legal Aid suggested that as many as 13 families may have had to sleep at the intake center last week, but city officials dispute that.
“We’ve got housing for families,” the mayor said. “If those families were sleeping on the floor for days, as they used to do, I can understand the criticism of Legal Aid.”
The mayor, however, insists that the influx of asylum seekers has compromised the city’s ability to provide adequate shelter, and anecdotal evidence appears to somewhat support his claim.
Immigration Commissioner Manuel Castro said he had spoken with asylum seekers in the Bronx, Staten Island and Midtown.
A staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society, who often visits the intake center, said he too has seen an increase in the number of asylum seekers, but not to the level Mr. Adams claims.
On one night last week, as the city processed 120 families’ housing applications, Legal Aid staff attorney Kathryn Cliff said she spoke with 15 families who had come from Texas. He said the intake centers are being filled with local families and families who independently traveled to New York.
Fabian Levy, a spokesman for Mr. Adams, said city officials began seeing a surge in asylum seekers in late May and were discussing it internally when they made their call for federal aid last week. Decided to go public together.
Mr Jenkins said the number of asylum seekers was “definitely an estimate” but based on an assessment of trends and discussions with families during their housing assessments.
Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, which works to help immigrants, has seen an increase in the number of asylum seekers across the country. Many people arrive in New York City in need of basic necessities such as food, clothing, medical care, shelter and legal assistance. “Chaos” is how the group’s executive director, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, described the current situation.
Alania Hughes, 21, of the Bronx, was one of those who spent the night at an intake center last week with her 1-year-old son. When she arrived at 9 p.m., the line was out the door. That night her baby slept in her stroller. While there, he spoke with several families who had come from Texas.
“I just tried to stand up,” Ms Hughes said. “I just wanted to get in the shower.”
The next day she and her son were placed in temporary accommodation. As the political spat continues between Mr. Adams and the governors of Texas and Arizona, Ms. Hughes is not sure when she will get permanent residency.
Asked about the mayor’s criticism on Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott boasted that he has flown 5,500 immigrants to Washington, D.C., but none to New York, with the help of local agencies.
“Mayor Adams’ problem is not with Texas,” Mr. Abbott said. “This is in line with President Biden’s refusal to stop this border crisis and secure our southern border.”
Mr. Adams rejected pushback from the governors of Texas and Arizona.
“The people who are sending people now, they tell you they did something different and automatically you believe them,” Meyer said. “I wish you would treat me like that.”
“They can say what they want,” the mayor said. “They were wrong. They ended up here because they didn’t have support there.