NYC is starting to expel some people from migrant shelters under tougher guidelines

New York City has taken stronger measures to address the issue of overcrowded shelters by implementing a new rule. This rule stipulates that certain adult asylum-seekers will only be allowed to stay in the system for one month before they must find their own accommodation. The city aims to alleviate the strain on its shelters and encourage individuals to seek alternative housing options.

Migrants who do not have young children are now required to leave the hotels, tent complexes, and other shelter facilities managed by the city within 30 days. For those aged 18-23, this period is extended to 60 days. However, individuals can be exempted from this requirement if they can provide evidence of “extenuating circumstances” and are granted an exemption.

By Wednesday evening, a total of 192 migrants had submitted their applications for an extension once they reached their quota. Mayor Eric Adams’ office confirmed that 118 of them have been granted approval, while many more are anticipated to receive eviction notices in the upcoming months.

Mamadou Diallo, a 39-year-old man from Senegal, is uncertain about his next destination as his stay at a shelter in the Bronx is coming to an end later this week.

He is hopeful for an extension, as he recently submitted his asylum application and has been actively attending English classes. However, he is unable to apply for a work permit according to federal regulations until approximately five months after submitting his asylum application.

“I have nowhere to go,” Diallo expressed on Wednesday. “I am currently attending school and actively seeking employment. I am putting in my best efforts.”

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In March, Adams’ administration successfully made changes to the city’s “right to shelter” rule, which mandated the provision of temporary housing for all homeless individuals who requested it. As a result, new restrictions have been implemented.

Adult migrants without children were previously restricted to a 30-day stay in a shelter under the old rule. However, they had the option to reapply for another bed without any further inquiries.

Migrant families with young children are still able to reapply for 60-day stays in the city without needing to provide any justification. Thankfully, the new rule does not affect them.

Over the past six months, an audit discovered that the rollout of the project was carried out in a haphazard manner.

Advocates for immigrant rights and the homeless are closely monitoring the eviction process, which is affecting around 15,000 migrant adults. Currently, the city shelter system is accommodating approximately 65,000 migrants, although a significant number of them are families with children.

David Giffen, the executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless, expressed his concern about the potential denial of people in need of shelter in New York City. He emphasized that people should not be forced to sleep on the streets due to reasons that could be appealed, errors, or lack of required documentation. Giffen stated that they are closely monitoring the situation to ensure that no one is unfairly denied access to shelter.

In response to criticism of the city’s migrant shelter rules being labeled as inhumane and poorly implemented, Adams, a Democrat, defended the city’s position by emphasizing the challenges of providing indefinite housing for migrants. Since the spring of 2022, New York City has offered temporary housing to almost 200,000 migrants, with a steady influx of over a thousand new arrivals each week.

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“It’s been argued that it’s cruel to evict people during the winter, and now there’s a belief that it’s equally cruel to do so in the summer,” Adams explained. “But the truth is, there’s never a good time for eviction. It’s always a difficult and challenging situation.”

The decision comes as Denver, a city that has experienced a significant increase in migrants, initiates an ambitious program to provide support for migrants. This program includes offering six-month apartment stays and intensive job preparation for those who are not yet eligible to work legally. In contrast, Chicago has implemented a 60-day limit on shelter stays for adult migrants, with no possibility of renewal. Additionally, Massachusetts has set a nine-month cap on family stays, starting in June.

In October, Adams requested the court to completely suspend the requirement of the “right to shelter.” However, this proposal faced opposition from immigrant rights and homeless advocacy groups. Eventually, in March, a settlement was reached, which established the new regulations for migrants.

City officials have the authority to grant extensions on shelter stays on a case-by-case basis, as per the agreement.

According to city officials, migrants must demonstrate their commitment to resettling by engaging in activities such as applying for work authorization or asylum, as well as actively seeking employment or housing.

Migrants may be eligible for an extension if they can provide evidence that they have intentions to relocate from the city within 30 days, have an upcoming immigration-related hearing, or are undergoing or recovering from a serious medical procedure.

Migrants who are between the ages of 18 and 20 years old are eligible for extensions if they are enrolled full-time in high school.

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Camille Joseph Varlack, Adams’ chief of staff, expressed confidence in the proposed changes, acknowledging that they may necessitate some adjustment. However, Varlack believes that these adjustments will ultimately assist migrants in advancing to the next phase of their journeys, alleviate the considerable burden on the shelter system, and ensure the continued provision of vital services to all New Yorkers.

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