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A new City Council bill would require immigrant housing facilities in NYC to abide by the right-to-shelter provisions

By 03/02/2023 10:04 AMNo CommentsBy YidInfo Staff

According to a bill that will be filed in the City Council on Thursday, the expansive emergency housing facilities for migrants run by the Adams administration would have to abide by municipal right-to-shelter laws.

The Office of Emergency Management and NYC Health + Hospitals run the administration’s so-called Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers for migrants, in contrast to traditional homeless shelters.

Homeless advocates claim that the administration gave these two organizations control over the centers rather than the Department of Homeless Services so that they could operate beyond the bounds of the city’s right-to-shelter statute.

The law establishes specifications for living arrangements in shelter situations, including bed separation and access to washing facilities.

Shahana Hanif, a Brooklyn councilwoman, is tipped to present new legislation that would make it mandatory for all existing and future migrant relief centers to abide by the right-to-shelter ordinance’s requirements.

“[The measure] I’m submitting today will make sure that each residence for asylum seekers complies with the strictest humanitarian requirements.

We can do better than storing people in one of the wealthiest cities on the planet, said Hanif, a Democrat and chairperson of the Council’s Immigration Committee.

Hanif stated, “We can ensure that everyone who enters our city, no matter where they come from, is given a respectable place to sleep.

The administration of Mayor Adams is willing to investigate Hanif’s idea, according to a spokeswoman for the mayor on Wednesday.

The spokeswoman stated, “Although we have primarily addressed this situation independently, we welcome discussions with government partners as we explore long-term solutions.

Hanif’s measure was introduced a month after Adams declared he did not think the tens of thousands of migrants, mainly from Latin America, who have entered the city since last spring “fit into the whole right-to-shelter conversation.”

Most of the administration’s HERRCs, or Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers, are based out of hotels. Advocates for the homeless have not voiced objections to those.

On Randalls Island, where hundreds of migrant males slept on beds arranged in long rows in expansive dormitories, the government conducted a tent-style HERRC, which activists and Democratic Council members criticized.

The Randalls Island site was closed in November, but the administration established a sizable HERRC that is still operational at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal on the Red Hook waterfront.

The Red Hook location contains close rows of cots migrants sleep on head-to-toe, similar to the Randalls facility.

According to a Council source who worked on Hanif’s draft, the legislation attempts to put a lid on the Red Hook site and any more facilities of its kind in the future.

According to the source, it would make shelters like the one at the Brooklyn Cruise Terminal illegal because the right-to-shelter mandates that beds be at least three feet apart.

The Legal Aid Society, which has repeatedly charged Adams’ administration of breaking the terms of the right to refuge throughout the migrant crisis, applauded Hanif’s proposal.

“With more and more migrants coming to New York seeking our assistance, we must make sure that HERCCs abide by the well-established court decisions, as well as state and local legislation,” said Kathryn Kliff, an attorney with Legal Aid.



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