By Giulia Mcdonnel Nieto Del Rio | September 26, 2023
At a closed-door conference in New York County Supreme Court on Tuesday, city representatives indicated they will seek to revise the right to shelter law, Supreme Court Judge Erika Edwards said. This comes as the Adams administration. This comes as the Adams administration has, for months, looked to distance itself from obligations to house migrants under the City’s right to shelter. City officials have repeatedly demanded that more aid from the federal and state governments be allocated to the city, and asked for other cities to take up additional responsibilities to shelter migrants.
The City must submit a letter detailing their desired changes to the right to shelter consent decree by October 3. The Legal Aid Society has been engaged in negotiations with the City over the right to shelter law for months.
Despite the state, federal government and the City working together in more “effective” ways in recent weeks, the hearing on Tuesday showed that the Adams administration still plans to ask for permission to be “relieved of the right to shelter in some way,” Joshua Goldfein, a staff attorney at The Legal Aid Society, told reporters outside the courthouse.
“It doesn’t make sense at this moment for the City to ask to be relieved of its obligation to protect people from dying on the streets of New York,” he said. But it was unclear on Tuesday what exactly the City would be asking for, and Goldfein noted that Legal Aid will have to wait and evaluate what exactly the request is before they respond to it.
More than 116,000 asylum seekers have arrived in New York City since last spring, according to City Hall. About 300 to 500 people have been arriving per day, with more than 60,000 currently in city care, City Hall said.
The Adams administration has been communicating with the court since May, looking to modify parts of the right to shelter consent decree, which requires the City to find temporary shelter for anyone who asks for it – legislation that has been in effect for about 40 years.
“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,” Mayor Eric Adams said in a statement on May 23.
On Tuesday, Goldfein said that this latest move would be the City’s third similar request through the court to revise the right to shelter. “What they [the city] have said is that the facts keep changing, and so their requests are changing in response to the situation,” Goldfein said. “Now, their request – they say – will reflect the current reality.”
Judge Edwards said on Tuesday she was recusing herself from the case. “I wish to avoid any potential appearance of impropriety, that my impartiality might be questioned, as it may appear that I may have motive to favor one party,” she said at the hearing, though she did not provide further information. The case will be assigned to a new judge, Judge Edwards said.