60-day shelter limit for asylum seekers to take effect next month: Deputy Mayor

Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Anne Williams-Isom.
Credit: Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

The first wave of adult asylum seekers handed notices limiting their shelter stays to 60 days will be required to vacate the system late next month, Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom said on Wednesday.

Mayor Eric Adams’ office has handed out 6,300 notices over the course of the past month informing migrants that they have 60 days to vacate city shelters, the deputy mayor said during a migrant crisis briefing on Wednesday afternoon. Dozens will be required to leave starting Sept. 23, according to City Hall. 

The administration started distributing the notices last month in emergency migrant shelters with the stated purpose of helping asylum seekers find more permanent housing, while also freeing up room for families with children. The warnings are supposed to be paired with intensified casework.

“We have felt like in those places where we are able to do the intensive case management, we are seeing people move on and being resettled and being connected to other family members or other places,” Williams-Isom said. “Where they want to be.”

Under the policy, migrants who aren’t able to find alternative housing within 60 days must go back to the asylum seeker welcome center at the Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown Manhattan and apply for a new shelter placement. But there is “no guarantee” they will get a new bed, the mayor said last month.

The deputy mayor didn’t give an exact number as to how many migrants would have to leave shelter when asked by a reporter during the press conference, but noted it would be “in the thousands.” However,  City Hall spokesperson Kayla Mamelak Altus later clarified in a statement to amNewYork Metro that the number of migrants asked to leave shelter near the end of September would actually be “several dozen.”

Thousands of adult asylum seekers have been given 60-day notices and several dozen will have those 60 days expire towards the end of September,” Mamelak Altus said.

During an Aug. 10 City Council hearing examining the shelter stay limit, city Health + Hospitals Senior Vice President Dr. Ted Long said the policy had been working as 65% of those given notices indicated they wanted to make a plan for exiting shelter.

“When we have our case managers having direct conversations with people we ask, ‘are you ready to make an exit plan?’ That will be something that will be executed within that 60-day period of time?” Long said at the time. “So [that] number of people are telling our case managers, ‘Yes, I’m ready to make an exit plan. We’re going to write it out.’”

Josh Goldfein, a staff attorney with the Legal Aid Society, told amNewYork Metro said Long just notified Legal Aid that “a pretty significant percentage” of people given notices in the first round indicated they have alternative housing and just need the city’s assistance in getting there. 

But, Goldfein said, the asylum seekers given notices so far have been in the city’s care for over a year and have had time to find other places to go and perhaps even line up employment. It’s not clear, he said, if migrants handed notices as soon as they enter shelter will have the same luck finding housing outside the shelter system.

“They’re giving the notices out to people as they walk in the front door now,” he said. “So I guess we’ll see how it goes for people who have come more recently. But for the people who came a while ago, it seems like they’ve had a pretty high percentage, because those people have been there longer.”

The deputy mayor’s comments come as the city now has over 111,500 people in its homeless shelters and emergency migrant housing, nearly 60,000 of whom are new arrivals. More than 107,300 asylum seekers have come through the city’s shelter intake since spring 2022 and 2,900 entered the city’s care over the past week.