Mayor Adams called on the federal government Tuesday to send money to New York City to accommodate hundreds of foreign asylum seekers who’ve recently come here seeking refuge — many of them, according to Adams, at the direction of states like Texas and Arizona.
The mayor’s demand comes as the city struggles to reign in homelessness and as its shelter system continues to buckle under that burden. As of Monday, 48,188 people were staying in city shelters, according to data from the Department of Homeless Services.
“We need not only the federal government, we need some of those states that have been giving people one-way tickets — we need them to understand that this must be a partnership in this country to deal with those who are coming here seeking refuge,” he said.
Adams, who fielded questions about the issue during a press conference about a new volunteer homeless outreach initiative, said he wasn’t entirely certain of what methods other states are using to refer asylum seekers to the Big Apple. But he noted that, based on interviews with them, city workers have gleaned what states they’re coming from and that they’ve been advised that New York City has a right to shelter law guaranteeing shelter to anyone within the five boroughs.
Such a right does not exist in many other states.
“Now, if you’re new to a country, you’re just trying to find help, and so if someone tells you, you know, this is the way to do it, we need to investigate: are they giving them one-way tickets? We’re not sure. This just got on our radar when we started seeing the high numbers show up,” he said. “This is a real burden on New Yorkers as we’re trying to do the right thing.”
Adams said not only are the new arrivals affecting the city’s shelter system, but that they’ll also likely impact city schools and translation services offered by the city.
“We need help in getting this done, and we need the right coordination to make it happen,” he said.
Earlier Tuesday morning, Adams’ press office put out a written statement calling on the feds to send funding to address “a sharp increase in asylum seekers from Latin America and other regions” over the past several weeks.
Adams’ spokesman Fabien Levy said later Tuesday that about 2,800 asylum seekers have found refuge in the city in recent weeks.
“In some instances, families are arriving on buses sent by the Texas and Arizona governments, while in other cases, it appears that individuals are being sent by the federal government,” Adams said in the written statement. “In order to both meet the legal mandate as a right-to-shelter city and provide high-quality shelter and services for those who enter our system, New York City needs additional federal resources immediately.”
Adams added in that statement that his team has been in discussions with the federal government and “look(s) forward to a quick resolution.”
But the remarks sparked an almost immediate backlash from homeless advocates like the Legal Aid Society and Coalition for the Homeless, which both tagged Adams for attempting to make asylum seekers “shoulder the blame” for the city’s “growing shelter census crisis.”
“So long as City Hall allows bureaucratic obstacles to remain in place, hampering our clients’ ability to transition from shelters to long-term and safe affordable housing — which remains in scant supply — this crisis won’t abate anytime soon, and we call for more funding to develop housing truly affordable for our homeless neighbors,” the two groups said in a joint statement.
Adams appeared at a loss to address the criticism and said he didn’t understand how those groups could interpret his message that way.
“I don’t know why they believe that’s blame,” he said. “What we’re saying: Our system is already overburdened. Fact. These states are sending people to New York without any communication or coordination. Fact. We’re not receiving any dollars in addition to this new responsibility that we’re going to have. Fact. So I’m just not clear what Legal Aid believes we are doing that is blaming anyone.”
©2022 New York Daily News. Visit nydailynews.com. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
This content is published through a licensing agreement with Acquire Media using its NewsEdge technology.