NYC to start evicting migrants who hit 30-day shelter limits starting next week

NEW YORK — Migrants staying in New York City shelters will be forced out starting as early as next week if they haven’t been able to prove they’ve experienced extenuating circumstances around finding new housing, a top official in Mayor Eric Adams’ administration said Friday.

The new approach marks a tightening of existing rules. Under the existing 30-day limit, any migrant who wanted could receive a new placement though reapplying. Now, migrants seeking a longer stay will need to prove extenuating circumstances. Those who can’t prove that will not be granted a follow-up placement after 30 days under the new system.

The change in policy stems from a controversial court settlement in March focused on the city’s right to shelter law.

Under the settlement, the city is permitted to end adult migrants’ shelter stays if they haven’t found alternative housing and can’t prove “extenuating circumstances” after a 30-day stay in city-provided shelter.

That rubric is not being applied to migrant families with children.

The extenuating circumstances for single adult migrants and adult families include a signed lease or proof of an immigration proceeding that begins a month within a 30-day notice expiring; upcoming medical procedures; and — if a migrant is 18- to 20-years old — proof of full-time enrollment in a public school.

Another way to remain in shelter is to demonstrate that “significant efforts” have been made to resettle, which could include job applications, applying for work authorization and housing searches.

Adams’ chief of staff Camille Joseph Varlack said during a video briefing Friday with reporters that, as of this week, 30-day notices had expired for about 200 migrants who had the opportunity to “make the case for an extenuating circumstance if they needed to.”

“Beginning this week, we will start reviewing cases for shelter extensions under that framework to evaluate how we can best assist individuals as they work toward the next steps in their journey,” she said.

“They’ll continue to receive intense case management to help understand their needs and help them get on their way. They are also notified that if they believe they qualify for an exception, they can make an appointment at our reticketing center for that to be evaluated.”

Since Adams took office in January 2022, approximately 200,000 migrants have streamed into the city, putting a huge burden on its shelter system and finances. So far, about 65,000 migrants remain in the city’s care.

To mitigate that burden, Adams and his team created a rule last September that prohibited single adult migrants from staying in the same shelter bed for more than 30 days before having to vacate and reapply for a new placement if needed.

Earlier, in May, Adams’ legal team requested a judge grant the city permission to suspend some right to shelter provisions — which were enshrined not through legislation, but through what’s known as the Callahan consent decree, a court ruling that stemmed from litigation during Mayor Ed Koch’s administration.

The city made a similar legal push last October. This past March, Adams team and the Legal Aid Society, which along with the Coalition for the Homeless are responsible for monitoring the city’s adherence to Callahan, arrived at a settlement that allows the city to deny single adult migrants the opportunity to reapply for shelter after the first 30 days unless “extenuating circumstances” exist.

On Friday, Varlack noted that the total number of migrants who’ve received new vacate notices is “about 6,500” and that proving just one significant effort to resettle or one extenuating circumstance would qualify them to remain in shelter. Those notices, she added, “align” with the court settlement agreed upon with Legal Aid.

Josh Goldfein, a lawyer for Legal Aid, said the hope now is that the city does not begin turning away migrants simply “to save money.”

“It has to be an individualized determination about the facts of that person, which has to take into account their disabilities, the efforts they’ve made and what their circumstances are,” he said. “The city says their goal was to motivate people. They believe that people are not making significant efforts to move out. We don’t think that’s true. We see people who want to do everything they can to move out. They’re trying to find jobs, they’re trying to find housing, but there’s nothing available.”

So far, 29 migrants have applied for extensions and have been interviewed, Varlack said. Of those, 14 were approved and 15 denied extended stays. Given that, as it now stands, 186 migrants could be put out of shelter beginning next week, but that could change if more of them apply for extensions.

When asked Friday if the city has a clear sense of how many migrants who’ve left city care have found stable housing, Varlack said she does not.

“We certainly know the numbers in terms of the amount of people that we have reticketed,” she said, referring to extended shelter stays. “But lots of times people just move on. We have folks that move out of the system before they even get to their 30 days, and they don’t always sort of tell us where they are.”