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Hochul Supports Suspending NYC’s ‘Right to Shelter’ Mandate Amid Immigration Crisis


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New York Gov. Kathy Hochul has thrown her support behind efforts to end a legal agreement requiring the city to provide emergency housing to homeless people as officials struggle to handle the ongoing illegal immigration crisis. Ms. Hochul, a Democrat, formally endorsed New York City’s challenge to the decades-old requirement, known as the “right-to-shelter” rule, in a court filing this week.

The challenge against the mandate which was initially established to help address New York City’s homeless crisis is being led by Mayor Eric Adams. No other large city in the United States has such a requirement in place and New York officials argue the rule was never meant to apply to an international humanitarian crisis such as the one the city is currently dealing with.

More than 120,000 illegal immigrants have arrived in the city since last year, many of them without housing or jobs, overwhelming the city’s shelter system and forcing officials to fork out billions of dollars to erect emergency housing.Many of the immigrants have been housed in schools and places of worship across the so-called sanctuary state. Speaking to reporters during an Oct. 12 press conference, Ms. Hochul noted the city is still committed to helping its homeless population but said the interpretation of the right-to-shelter rule no longer makes sense under the current circumstances.

Not an ‘Open Invitation'”

This interpretation that has been promulgated for the last year-and-a-half [and] doesn’t hold up any longer. That does not mean my commitment to helping the homeless on the streets, especially those with mental health, my commitment remains steadfast,” Ms. Hochul said.”Let’s deal with the unprecedented scale of the human crisis which has truly stretched the resources of the city to manage the implementation as it has been interpreted. That’s what I keep getting at, it doesn’t have to be interpreted this way,” she told reporters.

The Democrat also stressed that the right-to-shelter mandate should not be seen as “an open invitation to 8 billion people who live on this planet” as it is simply not sustainable.

“I don’t know how the right to shelter can or should be interpreted to be an open invitation to 8 billion people who live on this planet, that if you show up on the streets of New York that the city of New York has an obligation to provide you with a hotel room or shelter,” she said.

“I have to deal in pragmatic solutions; my heart wants to do anything we can to help people and we have been, the state has committed almost 1.7 billion dollars already, I budgeted one billion,” she said. “As you can see we are continuing to make financial commitments to build shelters, it’s very expensive to put up one shelter or large-scale facilities and we are paying almost 40 percent of all the housing already,” she added.Ms. Hochul’s comments come after the city, led by Mr. Adams, last week urged a court to suspend the right-to-shelter mandate during a state of emergency.

“New York City has done more than any other city in the last 18 months to meet this national humanitarian crisis,” lawyers for the city wrote in a letter to Erika Edwards, a New York Supreme Court justice. “The Judgment’s onerous terms are demonstrably ill-suited to present circumstances and restrain the City at a time when flexibility to deal with the emergency is paramount. “The Consent Judgment entered over 40 years ago under far different circumstances has become outmoded and cumbersome in the face of the present migrant crisis,” lawyers for the city added.

Immigration Crisis Pushing New York to Brink

Lawyers also noted the “explosive pace” at which new immigrants are entering the city, adding that it is showing “no sign of abating.” “The historic, sustained, and indeterminate expansion of the city shelter population has subjected the city to enormous strain,” they wrote. “The cost of the city’s relief efforts, totaling $2.1 billion as of September 1, 2023, has corroded the city’s finances significantly with all agencies subject to mandatory spending cuts that may reach 15 percent by April 2024. The city is approaching the limit of available and appropriate housing sites in the City, as well as the limit of its ability to operate those sites.

“The move to suspend the mandate has sparked backlash from activists including The Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless, amid concerns it will impact thousands of low-wage working poor New Yorkers, homeless individuals who receive federal disability payments, and long-time New Yorkers who lack immigration status.In a statement Thursday, activists said the city would likely see the emergence of mass homeless encampments and tent cities, should the city prove successful in its challenge to suspend the mandate.

“Mayor Adams has said repeatedly that he does not intend to suspend the Right to Shelter for New Yorkers, but that is precisely what this application seeks to do,” said Dave Giffen, executive director of the Coalition for the Homeless.

“Make no mistake: if the Mayor and Governor get their way, they will be closing the door of the shelter system to thousands of people without homes, leaving them nowhere to sleep but the streets. That is their plan. And that is exactly the inhumane and unacceptable outcome that New Yorkers reject, and that the Right to Shelter was meant to prevent,” Mr. Giffen added.

Source: The Epoch Times


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