Mayor officially limits shelter stays for migrant families with children to 60 days

Mayor Eric Adams.
Photo Credit: Benny Polatseck | Mayoral Photography Office

The Adams administration on Monday announced it will limit shelter stays for migrant families with children to 60 days amid the ongoing migrant crisis.

The announcement was made official Oct. 16 after it was reported by multiple outlets and confirmed to amNewYork Metro by an attorney with the Legal Aid Society on Friday. City Hall, however, declined to say whether it was implementing the policy at the time.

It follows similar moves by the city to cap shelter stays for single adult migrants, first at 60 days, and then at 30 days. Under the policy, migrants are given notice that they have 60 days to find “alternative housing” outside the city’s shelter system.

Newcomers who are unable to secure other housing within the mandated time frames must venture back to the city’s migrant welcome center at the Roosevelt Hotel to apply for a new shelter bed. The policy applies to emergency migrant shelters, but not to those run by the Department of Homeless Services (DHS), which houses both migrants and longer-time homeless New Yorkers.

The mayor, in a Monday statement, billed his latest imposed ceiling on shelter stays as a way to help migrants move out of city shelters, while also freeing up space for additional new arrivals. He pointed to the “intensified casework” paired with the policy to assist migrants in finding housing outside the shelter system.

“With over 64,100 asylum seekers still in the city’s care, and thousands more migrants arriving every week, expanding this policy to all asylum seekers in our care is the only way to help migrants take the next steps on their journeys,” Adams said. “This step builds on our work providing notices and intensified casework services to adults in the city’s care to help them move to alternative housing.”

The mayor’s office also announced that a mega-shelter planned for Brooklyn’s Floyd Bennett Field will house migrant families in a “semi-congregate” setting. In practice, that means the tent-like facility will have privacy dividers with locks and will shelter up to 500 families with children.

While the shelter’s construction is currently being challenged in a Staten Island Supreme Court by a group of mostly GOP lawmakers, the administration says there is no temporary restraining order stopping it from moving forward with building the complex. The case was moved to the federal level at the request of the city and state earlier this month, but then was sent back to state court last Friday.

Both announcements were immediately slammed by immigrant and homeless advocates.

The Legal Aid Society and Coalition for the Homeless, in a joint statement, said the 60-day limit for families will cause disruptions for school-aged migrant children and difficulties for school administrators. As migrant children could be forced to change schools each time they get a new shelter placement.

“This new policy, along with the city’s announcement that it will place families with children in semi-congregate settings at Floyd Bennett Field, will disrupt access to education, which has provided much needed stability for our newest neighbors, and also cause chaos for school administrators,” they said. “We are also concerned about access to medical care and other vital services.”

They also charged that placing families with children in a semi-congregate settings raises “serious legal questions” and poses safety risks.

“Private rooms, not open cubicles, are needed to ensure the safety of families with children and to reduce the transmission of infectious disease, among other obvious reasons,” they said.

If the move violates the Boston consent decree, which guarantees the right-to-shelter for families with children, the groups said “we will have no choice but to seek an immediate injunction from the court.”