Adams admin to impose 60-day cap on shelter stays for migrant families: source

Mayor Eric Adams.
Photo Credit: Benny Polatseck | Mayoral Photography Office.

The Adams administration is set to impose a limit on shelter stays for migrant families similar to the one it has implemented for single adults amid the ongoing influx of new arrivals to the Big Apple, according to published reports and a legal source.

News of the coming move, which was first reported by the New York Daily News and confirmed by an attorney with the Legal Aid Society, was swiftly decried by immigrant and homeless advocates.

The forthcoming new policy would cap shelter stays for migrant families with children at 60 days. It follows a previous limit on single migrant adults’ time in shelter, at first to 60 days, and subsequently to just 30 days.

Those who are not able to secure housing outside the shelter system after the time limit elapses must go to the migrant intake center at the Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown Manhattan to apply for a new shelter bed. The rule applies to emergency shelters erected for housing migrants, but not to Department of Homeless Services (DHS) facilities, which are housing migrants and long-time New Yorkers.

The Daily News cited a source that said the rule could be unveiled as soon as Friday.

City Hall spokesperson Charles Lutvak declined to confirm the policy in an email, even though Legal Aid Staff Attorney Josh Goldfein told amNewYork Metro the administration informed him it would be announced soon.

“That is not the policy. If we are changing policy, we will announce it,” Lutvak said. “Obviously Legal Aid does not know when things are announced by City Hall.”

When the administration introduced the ceiling for single-adult shelter stays, it billed the policy as a way to help migrants exit the city’s care more quickly, while freeing up space for the waves of newcomers who continue arriving in the city each day. To that end, the policy was paired with “intensified” case-management when it was rolled out.

With over 126,700 migrants having arrived in the five boroughs since April 2022, more than 63,000 of whom are still in the city’s care, the administration argues it is out of room and needs to take drastic measures to deal with the ongoing surge of new arrivals. The mayor has also bemoaned the budgetary burden of sheltering so many people, saying it could cost the city as much as $12 billion by summer 2025.

But Legal Aid, in a statement, called a shelter limit for families with children a “stain [on] our city’s long-standing reputation as a welcoming home for all.”

Goldfein, in an interview with amNewYork Metro, said the shelter stay cap will be particularly detrimental to school-aged migrant children, who will potentially be forced to travel a greater distance to their schools or have to change schools with each new shelter placement.

“That seems like a terrible thing to do to families where they have one stable part of their lives, which is the kids’ school,” Goldfein said. “And now you’re forcing people to choose between keeping their children enrolled at a school that is far away from their new shelter placement or changing schools every time they get one of these notices.”

The attorney said the move could also be disruptive to school administrators and teachers, who could have children moving into and out of their classrooms each day.

“Once it starts, then it’ll just keep playing out as new people come in every day,” he said. “So, there’ll be a huge surge at the start of it. But then after that, it will continue until children are either added to the school or unenrolled from the school or the school doesn’t know. The school may not even know what happened … So, you’ll have all these kids who are between schools.”

Christine Quinn, president and CEO of the shelter provider Win, said the policy is “cruel” and “inhumane” and that it could be leading to the city placing families in congregate settings, which it has so far not done.

“This policy also appears to be a first step toward putting families with children in dangerous and unsafe congregate settings — which is simply unacceptable,” Quinn said. “This policy flies in the face of common sense and basic decency, and I urge the City to reconsider this backwards approach to our homelessness crisis.” 

The mayor’s office is also currently pursuing a roll back to the city’s longstanding mandate to provide shelter to anyone in need — known as the right-to-shelter — in a Manhattan court. The changes the administration is seeking would free it of being required to provide shelter to single adults whenever there is a surge in the numbers requesting shelter and a declared emergency at the city or state level.

Last week Council Member Shahana Hanif (D-Brooklyn) introduced a bill that would bar the city from imposing any limits on stays across its homeless and emergency migrant shelters. The measure is likely to face opposition from the mayor, who must sign it in order for it to become law.