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Morning Spew

It’s Wednesday and There’s No Room at the Shelter in Eric Adams’s New York 

The City continues to fail asylum seekers, and other links to get you through the midweek.

6:07 AM EDT on September 14, 2022

A group of asylum-seekers bused in from Texas receive assistance from Bronx Mutual Aid members on August 10, 2022. (Hell Gate)

Last month, a Department of Homeless Services whistleblower exposed that the City was breaking the law in its treatment of asylum seekers, by having them sleep overnight in intake centers and, in some cases, just straight up denying them shelter. The Adams administration fittingly reacted by firing the whistleblower and placing the blame on asylum seekers themselves. Then the DHS commissioner himself went on vacation. But officials promised it wouldn’t happen again! Well, folks, it happened again. 

On Monday night, the Legal Aid Society says that at least 60 migrants who arrived at the men’s intake shelter on East 30th did not get placed in the shelter. Under a long-standing consent decree, the City must provide shelter to anyone who needs it, but the migrants, many if not all of whom were bused to New York City by Texas Governor Greg Abbott, were not allowed inside. 

While NYC's shelter population has risen in recent months—by as much as 20 percent, according to the City—due to the arrival of asylum seekers, Legal Aid says the Adams administration is still not doing everything in its power to find shelter for the migrants. That includes freeing up beds designated for people with mental health issues, or even just providing more hotel rooms for new arrivals (the City has utilized over a dozen hotels so far for the migrants). 

“It appears that they’re having trouble managing the numbers of people coming in and making use of the resources they have,” a Legal Aid employee told the New York Times.

While the Adams administration has continued to lobby the federal government for financial assistance to house the migrants, the federal government is partly to blame—Border Patrol agents in Texas are working in concert with Texas officials to make sure that New York receives an influx of asylum seekers. Border Patrol agents are doing so by assigning New York nonprofits on asylum seekers’ “notice-to-appear,” their official paperwork with the government. Texas is then busing those migrants up to New York City. Because the Biden administration has shown very little capacity to regulate or control its border agents (which is a larger and perhaps existential issue for the nation), there’s no sign any of this will stop. 

Beyond federal assistance, there are things that the City could do to step up its efforts for asylum seekers, but right now it has farmed out most of its support to mutual aid organizations and nonprofits

On Monday, the Adams administration singled out the arrival of asylum seekers as a reason to make drastic cuts to all City agencies, including the Department of Homeless Services, which is meant to shelter these very same people. While City Hall has said that the cuts are not allowed to impact services, agencies won’t be able to hire anyone new until City Hall has signed off on their budget plans. That freeze would be a de facto service cut for DHS, which has faced a staff exodus during the Adams administration, at a time when its services, especially its bureaucratic functions, are needed most. And that leaves a bunch of people, all of whom have come a very long way, with no say in the matter, sleeping on the city’s streets. 

On that note, here’s some links!

  • A new report from the New York Immigrant Coalition and the Long Island Language Advocates Coalition found that Nassau County police stations who received phone calls in Spanish only rendered assistance 50 percent of the time; a third of the phone calls were disconnected, and 16 percent of the callers were just hung up on. That’s after a 2013 agreement by the county to provide language access to non-English speaking residents, a shortcoming by emergency services that was highlighted by superstorm Sandy. Nassau County is home to growing Latino and Asian communities.
  • Workers at the New York Times and NBC News are defying their companies' “return-to-office” edicts, vowing to continue working from home, with Times workers saying that the company has not been negotiating a new contract with them in good faith, and that proposed pay raises have not kept up with inflation. To entice them to return, the Times apparently offered workers Times-branded lunch boxes. The union says they’ll have to do better than that.
  • Rental prices across the five boroughs continue to surge, and show no sign of slowing down. While Manhattan is leading the pack with an eye-popping average rent of $5,000, the median rent for all of New York City is up 20 percent from three years ago, reports City Limits. If you have a rent-stabilized apartment you locked in in April 2020, look around and get comfortable, because you’re going to be there a while.
  • The Andrew Cuomo grievance tour continues—now, the former governor has filed an ethics complaint about Attorney General Leticia James, claiming that the AG improperly inserted herself into her office’s investigation into charges of sexual harassment against the governor.
  • The attorney general, on the other hand, is on to other, more important matters—she told Gothamist’s Jake Offenhartz that she’s investigating VC-funded co-living companies that claim to offer cheaper options to tenants in the pressed housing market, but instead subject tenants to bizarre and dangerous living situations. (Shocking!) “If you’re considering renting through [Bungalow], I would say run as fast as possible,” one tenant said of her co-living experience. “This is not properly functioning property management.”
  • And to close out today’s Spew, Cardi B remains the Boogie Down’s best:

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