Dozens of homeless men were forced to sleep on floors and benches at an intake center in Manhattan on Monday night due to a lack of available beds, according to two local advocacy groups, marking the second time this summer that Mayor Adams’ administration appears to have violated the city’s right-to-shelter law.
In a joint statement Tuesday, the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless said they had received confirmation from the city Department of Social Services that at least 60 men were denied placement at the intake center on 30th Street and First Avenue.
Joshua Goldfein, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society, told the Daily News that his group learned that the 60 men had still not received shelter beds as of 9 a.m. Tuesday after showing up at the intake center the day before. He said the actual number of individuals who didn’t get shelter could be higher.
“They just sat there all night, waiting to get a bed, and they never did,” Goldfein said.
Since the city is a right-to-shelter jurisdiction, it must provide a shelter bed to anyone seeking one — meaning Monday night’s slipup likely broke the law. In July, Adams’ administration admitted it violated the same law by failing to find beds in a timely manner for at least five Latin American families, hundreds of whom have arrived in New York in recent months after crossing the U.S.-Mexico border in hopes of seeking asylum.
In their statement, the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless said they’re weighing legal action in light of Monday night’s episode.
“Any New Yorker, including an individual seeking asylum, is legally entitled to placement in a safe and decent shelter. Should the city continue to deprive our clients of this codified right, we’ll seek action from the court,” the groups said.
A Department of Social Services spokeswoman would not say when or if the 60 men at the 30th St. intake center were eventually given beds. The spokeswoman did say there’s an “unprecedented need for shelter services” in the city due to the waves of migrants arriving weekly.
“We have already provided shelter to thousands of recently arrived-asylum seekers, including hundreds yesterday alone, and we continue to open emergency sites citywide,” the spokeswoman said.
The right-to-shelter controversy could prove politically perilous for Adams.
The city only recorded one right-to-shelter violation over the course of ex-Mayor Bill de Blasio’s eight years in office. In light of Tuesday’s development, Adams’ administration may have racked up nearly 70.
Adams has blamed the crisis in the city homeless shelter system on Republican Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, who has sent thousands of Central and South American migrants to New York — often without alerting local officials — after they’ve crossed into the Lone Star State from Mexico.
In an interview on NY1 last month, Adams accused Abbott of using the desperate travelers, many of whom are fleeing violence in their home countries, as “political pawns” in his beef with President Biden over immigration policy.
But the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless contended in their Tuesday statement that Adams’ team shares some blame. “It is now clear that this administration simply does not have a handle on the city’s sprawling homelessness crisis,” they said.
Compounding the shelter crisis, Gary Jenkins, Adams’ social services commissioner, is facing a Department of Investigation probe over allegations that he sought to cover up the first five right-to-shelter violations in July. Jenkins has vehemently denied the allegations, and Adams affirmed earlier this month that he maintains “utmost confidence” in his social services chief.
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