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Mayor Anointed by God Declares There’s No More Room at the Inn

WWJD? And more links for your Thursday.

9:48 AM EDT on July 20, 2023

NYC Mayor Eric Adams in a white polo shirt, speaking before a podium.

(Ed Reed / Mayoral Photography Office)

When dealing with a difficult, challenging situation that you don't really know how to solve, the answer is clearly to make things worse and meaner. Just take Mayor Eric Adams and his response to the migrants who have been coming to New York City over the past year. Yesterday, the Adams administration announced that some asylum seekers in City shelters will be limited to a 60-day stay before they'll need to find a different place to live. After those 60 days, single adult asylum seekers will be required to reapply for a space in the shelter system. "We have no more room in the city and we need help," Mayor Eric Adams said at a press conference on Wednesday, arguing that the new policy will help make space for families with children. 

The Adams administration also announced that they will be distributing leaflets at the border to migrants to discourage them from coming to New York City, telling them to "consider another city," and alerting them that the cost of living in New York is very expensive. (This is exactly what Jesus would do.)

A City spokesperson told Gothamist that these flyers would be distributed by "nonprofit groups." We reached out to the mayor's press office to ask: who are these Adams admin-friendly nonprofits who are willing to help them distribute this useless information that probably will do nothing to change the minds of people who risked their lives to seek asylum? We haven't heard back as of press time.

With these moves, it appears that Mayor Adams is intensifying his efforts to weaken NYC's right to shelter law. Contrary to what his little flier suggests, right to shelter remains a tenet of NYC's housing and anti-homelessness policy, guaranteeing a bed to anyone who needs one. As the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless wrote in a joint statement in response to Adams's new rule, "As prescribed by the New York State Constitution, multiple court orders and local laws, both the State and the City have a legal obligation to ensure that people who lack shelter are safe and secure, and protected from exposure to the elements." They added, "We are still reviewing this policy and its legality." 

For one moment, let's pretend that Adams will get his way. What happens if someone's reapplication is unsuccessful? The Adams administration says they'll "intensify efforts to help the migrants connect with family, friends or outside networks in order to find alternative housing arrangements," whatever that means in practice, but housing advocates told the New York Times that it will just result in street homelessness, which is obvious if you think about it for more than two seconds. 

City Comptroller Brad Lander isn't too pleased, writing in a statement, "The Mayor’s announcement today doesn’t just undermine the right-to-shelter, but the defining role of New York as a beacon of promise inscribed at the base of the [Statue] of Liberty."

"Right to Shelter is the reason that New York City has fewer people sleeping on our streets every night than other major U.S. cities," Lander's statement continued. "Limiting the length of shelter stays for asylum seekers will put more people on the streets."

But this response fits a pattern of the Adams admin: finding a way out of doing their job that almost makes sense, almost makes it seem like they’re engaging in a thorough and exhaustive effort to solve a genuine crisis, but only at the barest glance, and if you don't think about it all. But we know that the shelters that the Adams administration has been opening are derelict, they've been denying people shelter in practice as early as last year, and that they've appealed to a judge to get out of the right to shelter mandate altogether.

Here are some links that hopefully make a little more sense:

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