Hundreds of protesters took to the streets of Lower Manhattan on Tuesday to defend the city’s right-to-shelter mandate, as Public Advocate Jumaane Williams accused city and state leaders of using the migrant crisis to undermine the policy and turn New Yorkers against one another.
Faith leaders, housing advocacy groups and other organizations assembled outside the National Museum of the American Indian, located at 1 Bowling Green, where they bemoaned efforts from Mayor Eric Adams and Gov. Kathy Hochul to cut the right-to-shelter rule — a mandate that requires the city to provide unhoused New Yorkers with a place to stay.
Adams has been limiting shelter stays to asylum seekers, with families subject to a 60-day limit while single adult men capped at 30 days—before they have to reapply. Hizzoner has repeatedly charged that the Big Apple’s wallet is empty, resulting in a slew of controversial budget cuts.
However, groups like the Coalition for the Homeless, The Legal Aid Society, Win, and more are pushing back, calling on both the Mayor and Governor to reverse course and not limit shelter stays. Setting up an array of tents around Bowling Green, the large coalition used the startling sight as a stark warning, believing sidewalk lodgings will become a common occurrence if the protections continue to be cut.
Speaking at the rally, Public Advocate Jumaane Williams said that the city was undergoing a housing crisis even before the influx of new immigrants. He also accused elected leaders of creating division as the city looks to aid the new arrivals.
“Right to shelter is not failing, our leaders are on every single level. Our leaders have failed. And when our city, state and federal governments fail over and over again, they want to scapegoat the people who need the most help,” Williams said. “Don’t have New Yorkers mad at the migrants, have them mad at you.”
After rallying at the National Museum of the American Indian, the group marched through the streets to City Hall where they demanded the right-to-shelter mandate be strengthened.
amNewYork Metro has reached out to representatives of Adams and Hochul and is awaiting a response.