New York City Mayor Eric Adams announced an emergency procurement declaration to quickly obtain shelter and other services for people seeking asylum in NYC.
Approximately 4,000 asylum seekers have entered the city since May of this year, accounting for some of the 10% increase in the NYC Homeless Services’ census. About 100 additional asylum seekers are reportedly looking for some form of housing assistance each day in the city.
“New York is a city of immigrants, and we will always welcome newcomers with open arms. Over the past two months, we have seen a significant increase in the number of asylum seekers arriving in our city’s shelter system,” said Mayor Adams in the announcement Aug. 1. “To fulfill our city’s legal and moral mandate to provide quality shelter to anyone experiencing homelessness, and to ensure we are providing appropriate services to asylum seekers, we are immediately issuing an emergency procurement declaration to rapidly procure additional shelter and services to serve these individuals and families. We are working across city agencies and with not-for-profit partners to ensure these individuals have access to a range of services, including legal support, health care, and education. We can no longer wait — and this declaration will allow the city to procure sorely needed additional resources as quickly as possible.”
In order to protect asylum seekers from deportation or federal detainment – and because NYC is a “sanctuary city” aiming to provide shelter to all who need it regardless of immigration status – the city does not track individuals’ immigration status on any intake forms.
Accordingly, this means the number of people entering the shelter system is a conservative estimate.
“New York’s commitment to providing shelter is an essential part of what makes our city a welcoming safe haven,” said City Comptroller Brad Lander. “We will work closely with the administration to appropriately expedite contracts and ensure New York City can deliver the shelter and services that families seeking asylum here urgently need.”
The Mayor’s decision comes after he was forced to defend his administration’s handling of what he called a “surge” of asylum seekers entering the city earlier this month. Specifically regarding criticism from advocacy groups like the Legal Aid Society which cited instances where several asylum seeking families were forced to sleep on the floor of a Bronx shelter intake center.
“When you look at 3,000 people hitting our shelter system and immediate response from the infrastructure of our system to address their concerns is what we are talking about,” Adams said. “So any comment or insinuation that we did not respond the way New Yorkers expect us to do so, is just not true. And this is not a moment of saying ‘hey, we gotcha. We caught you.’ No. This is the moment where our administration is saying to them, ‘we got you.’ This is who we are as New Yorkers. We got you, we’re gonna provide the services you need.”
Additionally, the New York City Council will be holding a hearing on the Adams administration’s handling of asylum seekers in city homeless shelters on Aug. 9. The hearing will be jointly conducted by City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams and Council Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala.
“New York City is in the midst of a housing crisis that is exacerbating homelessness and must be confronted with expanded access to affordable housing,” Speaker Adams and Ayala said in a joint statement. “We also know that the shelter system has suffered from longstanding issues that are unacceptable and must be addressed. The city has a responsibility to ensure adequate conditions in our shelter system for all residents, whether it is those who have sought asylum from another country or not.”
The Legal Aid Society released a statement Aug. 1 which expressed gratitude following Monday’s emergency procurement announcement, but emphasized there was still plenty of work to be done in order to protect asylum seekers in the city.
“While we are glad to hear that the City is working to fulfill its legal mandate to provide quality shelter placements to anyone experiencing homelessness, the devil is in the details,” the statement read. “We call on Mayor Adams to release specifics around his plan to rapidly procure additional shelter beds and resources for incoming asylum seekers. In addition to providing more shelter capacity for homeless families, regardless of their immigration status, it is also critical that the City expedite permanent and supportive housing placements and voucher approvals as well as new investments to build additional affordable housing for all individuals experiencing homelessness and those with extremely low incomes.”
Last updated 8/1/2022 2:37 pm