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Eric Adams Is Looking to Succeed Where Rudy Giuliani and Michael Bloomberg Failed

When it comes to NYC's right to shelter law, Adams is just like his Republican predecessors.

NYC Mayor Eric Adams, wearing a blue suit and a patterned tie, stands before a microphone.

Mayor Eric Adams delivers remarks at the Combat Antisemitism Movement’s roundtable on Tuesday, May 23, 2023. (Benny Polatseck / Mayoral Photography Office)

Rudy Giuliani hated the City's long-standing right to shelter law, so did Michael Bloomberg. While those two mayors failed to undermine the City's obligation to provide shelter to all homeless New Yorkers, Eric Adams is determined to succeed where they did not: On Tuesday, Adams announced he is pursuing legal action to weaken the City's legally mandated right to shelter policy, the result of a 1980s consent decree. 

In a letter to a New York judge, his administration asked for the authority to deny housing to single adults and families without children whenever the City "lacks the resources and capacity to establish and maintain sufficient shelter sites, staffing, and security to provide safe and appropriate shelter."

In a statement, Adams stressed that his administration is "in no way seeking to end of [sic] the right to shelter," despite the fact that his request, if granted, would result in untold numbers of people being turned away from a bed. "Given that we're unable to provide care for an unlimited number of people and are already overextended, it is in the best interest of everyone, including those seeking to come to the United States, to be upfront that New York City cannot single-handedly provide care to everyone crossing our border," he wrote. 

Adams—who recently made some false claims about how many hotels were housing migrants, and whose spokesperson blamed the arrival of asylum seekers on "a network of activists" who are "luring" people to New York City "with false promises"—concluded, "Our city has done more to support asylum seekers than any other city in the nation, but the unfortunate reality is that the city has extended itself further than its resources will allow."

In a joint statement, the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless sharply criticized Adams's move. "The Administration’s request to suspend the long-established State constitutional right that protects our clients from the elements is not who we are as a city," they wrote. "New Yorkers do not want to see anyone, including asylum seekers, relegated to the streets. We will vigorously oppose any motion from this Administration that seeks to undo these fundamental protections that have long defined our city.”

This news also did not land well with City Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, who called the mayor's move "beyond disturbing." "Instead of solely focusing efforts on emergency shelter space and taking away essential safety protections, this Administration should pursue readily available solutions that can reduce homelessness, including adequate investments in eviction prevention, housing vouchers, agency staffing, and affordable housing development that are currently missing from its proposed budget," she wrote. 

As for those solutions, our mayor isn't a fan of those either. On Tuesday, the New York Times reported that Adams is opposing a slate of City Council bills that are meant to help move people more quickly out of the City's shelter system and into permanent housing. One of those bills would get rid of an onerous rule that requires people to stay in shelters for 90 days before they become eligible for a housing voucher. But getting rid of the 90-day requirement, Adams told the Times, would add “billions onto the backs of New York taxpayers." In unrelated news, the NYPD is expected to spend $740 million in overtime alone this year

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