City Starts Enforcing Stricter Re-Sheltering Rules for Adult Migrants, As Advocates Stand Guard

“For people who are receiving denials, but are accessing legal services, they’re going to be able to have some kind of advocacy,” said Deborah Berkman at New York Legal Assistance Group. “Without legal services, it seems almost impossible.” 

Migrants lined up to reapply for shelter outside St Brigid's School

Adi Talwar

Migrants waiting in line in front of the city’s “Reticketing Center” in the East Village on May 22, 2024.

The city began rolling out stricter rules for migrant shelter reapplications this week, which make it tougher for adults without children to earn more time.

The changes are part of a legal settlement reached in March that temporarily redefined New York’s decades-old right-to-shelter policy, which generally requires the city to provide a bed to anyone who needs and requests it. Adult migrants without children whose time of stay has expired after an initial 30 or 60 days now need to prove they meet “extenuating circumstances” to qualify for an extension.

Since the Spring of 2022, nearly 200,000 migrants and asylum seekers have arrived in New York City and about 65,000 are currently in the shelter system. Last July, the city began issuing controversial time limits to adults without children, extending the policy to families with kids in January, though with the option to reapply at the end of each deadline. Families with children are exempt from the new, stricter criteria.

“We have very limited tools for how we continue to manage,” Mayor Eric Adams’ Chief of Staff, Camille Joseph Varlack, told reporters during a press briefing Tuesday. “Every single week we still get hundreds, if not thousands of people coming into the system. We need to make sure that we have the space to take care of the new guests that are coming into the city as well.”

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