New York City won’t offer ‘right to shelter’ to some immigrants in deal with homeless advocates

NEW YORK (AP) — Some immigrants in New York City could be formally denied emergency housing after officials and human rights advocates agreed to compromise on the interpretation of a unique legal decision that gives the “ right to shelter ” to anyone who asks, the mayor announced Friday.

Mayor Eric Adams asked a court in October to suspend the housing requirement in a state of emergency, drawing a challenge from The Legal Aid Society and another humanitarian group. The agreement essentially ends the blanket right to shelter for adult immigrants after the first 30 days they receive services.

The city can determine on a case-by-case basis whether to allow a migrant to stay in a shelter for more than 30 days, according to the settlement. Additional time will be granted on a showing of “extenuating circumstances, including significant efforts to resettle,” the settlement reads.

“This new agreement acknowledges the realities of where we are today, affirms our shared mission to help those in need and grants us additional flexibility to navigate this ongoing crisis,” Adams said in a recorded video announcing the settlement.

Adams said over 183,000 immigrants have been in the city’s care at some point since 2022. Under the agreement, the unfettered right to shelter would be restored if the humanitarian emergency ended.

In return, Legal Aid expects the city to clear a backlog of immigrants, including families with children, who are reapplying for shelter space. The city also agreed to eliminate the use of waiting rooms as shelters and provide consistent access to bathrooms, showers and food, according to a statement from The Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless.

“This settlement safeguards the right to shelter in the consent decree, ensuring single adults’ – both long-time New Yorkers and new arrivals – access to shelter, basic necessities and case management to transition from shelter to housing in the community,” said attorney Adriene Holder for The Legal Aid Society in a statement.

New York City’s shelter requirement has been in place for more than four decades after the consent decree required the city to provide temporary housing for homeless people.

The announcement came after New York shelters began kicking immigrant families out of shelters after 60 days, forcing them to reapply and often wait days or more before securing another shelter spot.

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