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NYC reaches deal on ‘right to shelter’ mandate as migrant crisis reaches tipping point

New York City will be allowed to continue limiting shelter stays under a settlement struck Friday in the legal fight over the “right to shelter” mandate – but will still be on the hook to house the thousands of migrants pouring into the Big Apple each week.

Under the deal reached by the Mayor Eric Adams administration and the Legal Aid Society, the city will essentially be allowed to limit whether a single adult migrant can reapply for shelter after their 30-day stay expires.

After their 30 days is up, anyone can reapply, but only those who have a disability or meet a list of “extenuating circumstances” – such as recovering from a serious medical procedure or making a “significant” effort to find a new home – will be approved on a case-by-case basis, the settlement says.

Mayor Eric Adams has long argued that the so-called “right to shelter” should be nixed in regards to asylum seekers. William Farrington
Mayor Eric Adams has long argued that the so-called “right to shelter” should be nixed in regards to asylum seekers. William Farrington

Younger adult migrants, aged between 18 and 23 years, will now have up to 60 days in the shelter system before they are booted, per the deal.

Migrant families with kids, however, won’t be affected and can reapply – like they currently can — for shelter after getting their 60-day eviction notice without having to meet required circumstances.

The settlement, signed by Manhattan Supreme Court Judge Gerald Lebovits, marks the end of a drawn out legal fight over the decades-old mandate that requires the city to provide a bed for anyone that requests one.

The mayor had sought to have the so-called “right to shelter” requirement nixed in regards to asylum seekers because, he argued, the Big Apple can’t cope with the nearly 183,000 migrants that have poured into the city since spring 2022.

Hizzoner had repeatedly stressed the city needed to be able to turn some people away because Gotham’s resources have buckled under the weight of a migrant crisis that he forecasts will set taxpayers back $10 billion over the next few years.

Despite still having to provide a bed for all new asylum seeking arrivals pouring into Gotham, Adams hailed the settlement as a win for his administration.

“‘Right to shelter’ was never intended to apply to a population larger than most U.S. cities descending on the five boroughs in less than two years,” he said in a statement after the deal was announced.

“Today’s stipulation acknowledges that reality and grants us additional flexibility during times of crisis, like the national humanitarian crisis we are currently experiencing.”

Adams said the city can not handle the strain of migrants. James Keivom
Adams said the city can not handle the strain of migrants. James Keivom

Big Apple pols, however, were quick to rip the deal as a “slap in the face.”

“Today’s settlement on the right to shelter is a slap in the face to all New Yorkers,” Councilmember Bob Holden (D-Queens) told The Post. “By recklessly expanding the right to shelter to include the entire world, this move will deepen the migrant crisis, overburden hardworking taxpayers, and only hasten the exodus of the middle class from NYC.”

Meanwhile, Legal Aid — who had argued that rescinding the mandate would only result in more people sleeping on the Big Apple’s streets – also hailed the agreement as a victory.

“We have reached a resolution that preserves the right of shelter for everyone and ensures that people who have nowhere else to go will be safe if they have nowhere else to go at night,” Legal Aid attorney Josh Goldfein said during Friday’s hearing.

A deal was reached in the “right to shelter” mandate. Helayne Seidman
A deal was reached in the “right to shelter” mandate. Helayne Seidman

Goldfein added that, despite the settlement, the 30-day limit would in practice be similar to how things operate now because the city had guaranteed Legal Aid that no migrant would be left out on the streets.

“They also gave us assurance in our enforcement agreement that if someone can’t [leave the shelter], that they’ve tried everything and just don’t have any place to go, or have a medical procedure scheduled, or whatever it is, they can reenroll,” the Legal Aid attorney said.

Elsewhere in the settlement, it spells out that the city has to now eliminate the backlog of migrants who are reapplying for a bed and stop the use of “waiting rooms” at shelters.

Legal Aid reps had argued that many asylum seekers had been forced to wait for days or weeks on chairs and floors while reapplying for a bed after their 30-day stay limit expired.

The city is currently sheltering 64,600 asylum seekers in various shelters scattered throughout the five boroughs, according to City Hall’s latest data.