NY lawmakers propose bill aimed at Mayor Adams’ migrant shelter stay limits

NEW YORK — Two progressive New York lawmakers are taking aim at 30- and 60-day migrant shelter stay limits in the latest challenge to the Adams administration’s controversial policy.

Assemblymember Catalina Cruz of Queens and Manhattan state Sen. Brad Hoylman-Sigal proposed legislation intended to “outlaw the Adams Administration’s cruel 30 and 60-day rules,” they announced in a release on Monday.

If approved, the bill would prevent municipalities and the state from placing limits on shelter stays and would bar them from giving shelter residents the boot unless under special circumstances.

“Kicking people out to the streets during the coldest time of year won’t help solve our housing crisis and forcing asylum seekers out of shelters will do nothing to mitigate the migrant situation,” Hoylman-Sigal said in a statement.

Tens of thousands of migrants have received eviction notices since the city first started rolling out the policy in September, starting with single adults. The first families were required to leave their shelter in January. Single adults are limited to 30 days and families to 60 days of consecutive shelter stays. After their time is up, migrants must reapply for shelter beds at either a site in the East Village or the city’s migrant welcome center in Midtown.

The bill has the backing of WIN, one of the city’s biggest shelter providers, and a coalition of faith-based organizations and advocates called New York Shelter for All in Need Equally, or NY SANE.

Gov. Hochul will review the legislation if it passes through both houses of the Legislature, a spokesperson said of Hochul’s support.

The Adams administration has maintained that the rule is a cost-saving initiative that helps encourage migrants to leave the shelter system.

“We are grateful for the partnership of our federal and state partners, but, instead of introducing counterproductive legislation, we would encourage members of the Legislature to join us in advocating for meaningful financial help and continuing to ask for more assistance to help resettle families across New York state and the country,” said Kayla Mamelak, a spokesperson for the mayor.

More than 60% of migrants have chosen to leave the shelter system, Mamelak said, adding that the 30-and-60-day notices encourage more migrants to do so.

“Most New Yorkers agree that a shelter system should be temporary, especially for children who need consistency and permanency,” Mamelak said. “A hotel room is no place to grow up or raise a family”.

But critics have slammed the policy as inhumane. They’re concerned about the thousands who’ve slept outside, on trains or in makeshift “waiting rooms” in gyms and churches while they wait for a new shelter placement, and they say the frequent moves disrupt families and children as they struggle to keep their kids in schools.

“The current shelter time limit policies are not only inhumane but counterproductive, thrusting families into further uncertainty and distress,” Cruz said in a statement. “Our legislation to end these arbitrary 30- and 60-day shelter limit policies is more than a policy change; it’s a commitment to human rights and a testament to New York’s enduring spirit of inclusivity and compassion.”

Progressive City Council members last fall proposed a bill aimed to take down the policy that would also eliminate shelter stay limits, but it didn’t make it past the end of the session.

Last month, City Council members and advocates called on Mayor Eric Adams to lift the limits for migrant families, and City Comptroller Brad Lander is currently investigating the 60-day policy for families.