Published January 8, 2024

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.  

“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.  

“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. 

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