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shelter system strained

New York City weakens right-to-shelter rules ahead of expected migrant surge

New York City Mayor Eric Adams has issued an executive order that will temporarily suspend certain requirements of the city's right-to-shelter law, which requires it to provide a bed for anyone who needs one. 

The executive order will allow city officials to bypass rules that require them to place families in private housing with bathrooms and kitchens instead of in group settings. It also suspends policies that "set a nightly deadline for newly arriving families to be placed in shelters," The New York Times summarizes. 

The decision comes as the city continues to struggle to house thousands of asylum seekers being bused in from Republican border states. Fabien Levy, the mayor's press secretary, said New York had "reached our limit," having resorted last week to placing migrants in gyms. "This is not a decision taken lightly," Levy assured, "and we will make every effort to get asylum seekers into shelter as quickly as possible, as we have done since day one." The city has received over 500 migrants a day in recent days, he added.

The city is spending around $8 million daily to house nearly 40,000 asylum seekers, Bloomberg reports. And the number of people seeking shelter is expected to increase with the end of Title 42, the pandemic-era rule that allows the U.S. to quickly expel undocumented migrants, Bloomberg said. 

Adams' order has garnered some criticism from lawmakers and housing advocates. Assemblymember Linda Rosenthal (D-Manhattan), chair of the chamber's housing committee, told Gothamist she was "particularly concerned" about where families with children would be placed. "It is a crisis, but that doesn't mean we can turn our backs on refugees and asylum seekers," she said.

The right-to-shelter law is connected to a 1981 consent decree that mandated the city to find shelter for homeless men. The settlement is "considered a landmark agreement that served as a foundation for several other homelessness policies," Gothamist explains.