On Thursday, Mayor Adams sought to dispel any misunderstandings around his contentious remarks about revisiting New York’s historic right-to-shelter law amid mounting worries that the shelter system is still in danger of collapsing due to a recent influx of refugees from Latin America.
The controversy over the right to shelter started on Wednesday when Adams said that the rule “must be evaluated” after his administration allegedly broke the law by failing to provide beds for dozens of homeless men due to system overcrowding.
Adams and his team presented a sometimes controversial case that they are not reexamining the legislation itself but rather the “operational methods” that support it during a Thursday morning press conference at a recently opened migrant welcoming center in Manhattan.
“It’s important — because we don’t exist in a vacuum — to reconsider the practices that the city developed that flow from the right-to-shelter. So it’s those practices we are reassessing,” Adams’ chief counsel, Brendan McGuire, said.
According to city figures, more than 55,000 individuals are currently sleeping in the homeless shelter system on any given night, including over 8,000 asylum seekers, a nearly 25% rise from last spring.
Since May, more than 11,000 people have crossed the U.S. to reach the city seeking asylum. in the hopes of requesting asylum at the southern border.
Adams stated that the shelter system was “nearing its breaking point” in his remarks on Wednesday.
Arriving migrants in New York are escaping political unrest and economic collapse in their native countries.
Many entered Texas illegally from Mexico, and Republican Governor Greg Abbott moved them to New York because he disapproved of President Biden’s border policies.
Another Republican governor, Ron DeSantis of Florida, followed Abbott’s example this week by taking credit for flying migrants to Massachusetts rather than allowing them to stay in his state.
The right to shelter law, guaranteed by the state Constitution and mandates that the city gives a shelter bed to anybody in need since 1981, may not have been changed by Adams on his own.