Today the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC), elected officials, education allies, asylum seeking families, and immigrant New Yorkers.
They called to halt the displacement of asylum seekers from shelter mid-winter to navigate an unnecessary and burdensome bureaucratic process to receive a new shelter placement. The coalition held the rally the day before the City’s planned implementation of the 60-day shelter limit, evicting thousands of asylum-seeking families with children currently in Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers (HERRC) shelters.
The Adams Administration announced the 60-day notice for families to leave their shelter in October 2023, which would have initially evicted families around Christmas, but postponed displacing families until the new year with an expected start date of January 9. Due to poor communication between the City and asylum seekers at risk of eviction, some families are uncertain about when they are expected to leave, and when and where a new bed will be available. The Administration enacted the 30-day limit for single adults at the end of November, which has led to long lines of people waiting in the cold for hours to re-apply for shelter.
“… the greatest immigrant city the world has ever known.”
“Enacting the 60-day limit in the middle of winter is unnecessarily callous towards asylum seeking families with children,” said Comptroller Brad Lander. “These children were just able to settle down in schools, parents were able to seek work all because of the small modicum of stability shelter provided as they worked to get on their feet. City Hall must reverse its 60-day shelter policy, one of the cruelest policies in generations, in the greatest immigrant city the world has ever known.”
“We have seen the lines growing longer at St. Brigid’s while the temperature continues to drop outside. We cannot claim to be a City that supports immigrants while we force newly arrived families outside in the freezing cold for a bed,” said Council Member Shahana Hanif. “The Mayor’s callous 60 & 30-day rules are aimed at causing chaos and making our City unbearable for asylum seekers to seek shelter in. As the proud daughter of immigrants, I will continue to stand with allies in government and advocacy organizations from across our City to demand this Mayor abandon these cruel rules before he begins evicting families tomorrow. We can and must be a City that leads with compassion for all of our neighbors.”
“Mayor Adams’ decision to force recently arrived New Yorkers and their families to move out of shelters, in the middle of a freezing winter, is cruel and inhumane. Every New Yorker, including our newest New Yorkers deserve a safe place to sleep and rest. Instead of working towards solutions to address our homelessness and housing crisis, the Mayor continues to scapegoat asylum seekers in his quest to try to suspend right-to-shelter protections that would leave families out in the cold and uproot children from their schools. We call on Mayor Adams to stop these 30-day and 60-day eviction notices and finally focus on real long term solutions,” said Jose Lopez, Co-Executive Director of Make the Road New York.
“Eric Adams is ringing in the new year by endangering the lives of asylum seeker children and their families. On the heels of our first winter storm, this administration will begin throwing children out onto the streets, creating not only a costly logistical nightmare for city agencies and services but a tragic humanitarian crisis. These inhumane policies go against our city’s core values – Right to Shelter has served as a beacon of safety and stability for vulnerable New Yorkers for decades. Instead of forcing families and city agencies to jump through bureaucratic hoops, Mayor Adams should eliminate all shelter limits and focus on humane solutions, like providing access to permanent housing so families can thrive in our city and forge their own path to self-sufficiency,” said Liza Schwartzwald, Director of Economic Justice and Family Empowerment, New York Immigration Coalition.
The displacement caused by the 60-day limit will cause a major disruption for children attending New York City schools. Those children, who likely experienced significant upheaval already, may be forced to either transfer schools or navigate longer commutes from a further away shelter placement in the middle of the academic year. Uprooting children from their school could be painful setback for students who formed relationships with teachers, friends, and the school environment.
The advocates called for a myriad of alternative policy solutions including permanent pathways to housing, enhanced legal services and case management, and removing administrative obstacles to providing new shelter beds.
“We need effective solutions …”
“The 60-day shelter limit policy for families is dangerous and destabilizing and will inflict harm on children and their loved ones,” said Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala. “Mayor Adams’ administration is neglecting its responsibility to ensure government acts to protect children, and the negative effects will ripple throughout our communities and schools. We need effective solutions that help people successfully transition out of shelter and become self-sufficient, and I urge Mayor Adams to abandon this counterproductive, cruel and unnecessary tactic.”
“In choosing to move people from our shelters, New York City Mayor Adams is continuing a reckless policy started by racist, Southern Governors,” said Council Member Alexa Avilés. “Countless families now face needless trauma on city streets in the middle of winter. Until ruled otherwise, New York is required to uphold a right to shelter. How does forcing people from their living situations only to rehouse them elsewhere bring about stability or make financial sense? It does not. We need to stop human misery and this loop of displacement. This is a moral imperative.”
“To forcibly uproot families every 60 days is not a policy rooted in public safety or fiscal prudence; it is a cruel act that unravels the fabric of the lives our newest New Yorkers are fighting so hard to keep together. This is yet another reckless political decision by Mayor Adams, and instead of protecting stability in the hope of nurturing stronger communities, this 60-day policy perpetuates a cycle of instability,” said Council Member Jennifer Gutiérrez.
“Forcing newly arrived migrant kids out of shelters and into the freezing cold is unconscionable. Instead of meeting this challenge as an opportunity to get serious about solutions to this crisis, the Mayor is scapegoating asylum seekers to enact his fiscally conservative ideologies on our City, cutting funding for childhood education, libraries, and essential social services,” said Council Member Lincoln Restler.
“This Administration is talking out of both sides of its mouth: on the one hand it is claiming that the thousands of homeless sweeps it’s conducting are motivated by “care” and “compassion”; on the other hand, it is throwing men, women, and children out onto the street in the dead of winter. The City’s Right to Shelter mandate keeps tens of thousands of people – men, women, and children – from sleeping out on the street. It is that simple. And while shelters will never be the solution to homelessness, we must defend the right to shelter both as a legal right and moral obligation. Without a comprehensive housing plan or meaningful funding to create more deeply affordable housing, this Administration is relying on short-sighted goals that harm rather than help those most in need,” said Council Member Sandy Nurse.
“Displacing families seeking asylum from stable housing is only going to further stress our collective response, and ultimately harm children. The current wait for a single adult seeking a new placement in shelter, after meeting their time limit, is reported to take up to a week, and we cannot subject families with children in school to this brutal system. We must continue to marshall our efforts to urge the federal government to provide New York City with financial support and get individuals seeking asylum employment authorization, and language and vocational training. The Mayor must also swiftly implement CityFHEPS reforms passed with a veto-proof majority that will expand access to the City’s housing voucher program,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera.
“…weaponized people in need to artificially stoke a crisis…”
“We are proud of New York’s right to shelter, and of the open arms with which we have accepted tens of thousands of new arrivals,” said Council Member Chi Ossé. “We also know that we can’t do this alone. Republican governors have cruelly weaponized people in need to artificially stoke a crisis in an attempt to weaken and divide us. We can’t let them succeed. In the short term, the federal government must send New York the resources and support necessary to alleviate the pressure. In the longer term, we must commit to allowing and building new housing, especially affordable housing, to ensure we have room for everyone. Most importantly, housing is a human right; we must not evict.”
“The City’s plan to force newcomer families from their shelter placements at The Row hotel starting this week will be extraordinarily destabilizing for students, families, and school communities. It will mean a massive disruption to students’ education, whether due to delays in arranging transportation, unworkably long commute times, or being forced to start over yet again with new teachers, new classmates, and a new curriculum,” said Kim Sweet, Executive Director, Advocates for Children of New York.
“When new arrival families – who have already suffered so much hardship – are being forced out of shelters in the middle of winter as a way to make things even more uncomfortable for them in the hope that they’ll simply go away, we can see that this administration has completely lost it moral grounding. Putting anyone, let alone children, in harm’s way is a tactic that I don’t think any of us thought we’d ever see our great city sink to. There are better ways forward, and we continue to urge both Mayor Adams and Governor Hochul to honor New York’s fundament Right to Shelter while fully funding and implementing sensible decompression and resettlement plans for the new arrivals.” said Dave Giffen, Execute Director, Coalition for the Homeless.
“No one should ever have to endure the traumatic experience of homelessness, nor should people be discriminated against based on where they were born, or when they made NYC their new home. For months teen arrivals have been evicted from shelters, forced to sleep in the cold, miss school, and face indefinite uncertainty as to when they will be granted a stable shelter placement again. Forcing families to endure the same fate is equally as harmful and wrong- especially during the coldest months of the year. All people deserve access to a safe place to sleep, and it is shameful that this administration is denying people that right,” said Jamie Powlovich, Executive Director of the Coalition for Homeless Youth.
“Evicting new arrivals, including families with children, from a shelter in the dead of winter and during the middle of the school year is cruel, bad policy, and simply not who we are as New Yorkers,” said Judith Goldiner, Attorney-In-Charge of the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society. “To bolster shelter capacity, the City should implement the entire suite of common-sense policies that we have called for since last spring instead of forcing new arrivals to languish on local streets, exposed to the elements, and at risk of life and limb.”
“Our students and families deserve better from New York City. City Hall’s 60-day eviction policy needs to be stopped,” said UFT Vice President for Elementary Schools Karen Alford.
“…a humanitarian disaster that demands real solutions…”
“New York City is facing a humanitarian disaster that demands real solutions, not policies like the 60-Day Rule, which harasses families and forces them out of shelter every two months, rips children from their schools, disconnects asylum seekers from the support networks they’ve built, and pushes them onto the streets — all during the coldest months of the year,” said Christine C. Quinn, President and CEO of Win. “Make no mistake: the 60-Day Rule will rob families of the little safety, security, and stability they have. It is unconscionable, unacceptable, and inhumane. I urge the Adams Administration to end the 60-Day Rule and work with us to find common sense, humane solutions to this crisis.”
Earlier this fall, the city announced it will limit shelter stays for immigrant families with children to 60 days as more asylum seekers continue to arrive, forcing them to re-apply to find another shelter. This mandatory move creates unnecessary bureaucratic hurdles for families and puts children’s lives at risk of homelessness, impeding their social and academic progress, as their families try to navigate the city’s complex rules to re-enroll for a shelter placement.
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