NEW YORK CITY (WABC) -- New York City Mayor Eric Adams is calling for federal resources to assist with arriving asylum seekers, two days after Washington D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser also called for more federal resources to help the city provide resources for migrants she said are "being tricked" into boarding buses to DC from Texas and Arizona.
The Adams administration is looking into whether the same thing is happening in New York, as officials report an increase in sheltered individuals classified as a "family with children" since March.
In a statement, Adams' office said New York City has seen a sharp increase of asylum seekers coming to the city, with more than 2,800 people entering the city's shelter system.
The statement says the city is working with the federal government to try to provide support for those arriving.
Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey and Texas Gov. Greg Abbott have been busing migrants to Washington, D.C. to protest the Biden administration's handling of immigration, which has become a challenge for local organizations struggling to cope with the influx.
Here is the full text of Adams' statement:
"New York has been and will always be a city of immigrants that welcomes newcomers with open arms. This value has made our city a beacon of freedom for people around the world and the economic and cultural powerhouse that it is. These very same humanitarian values apply to those who are experiencing homelessness. In New York City, we have both a moral - and legal - obligation to house anyone who is experiencing homelessness for any reason. Currently, New York City is experiencing a marked increase in the number of asylum seekers who are arriving from Latin America and other regions. In some instances, families are arriving on buses sent by the Texas and Arizona governments, while in other cases, it appears that individuals are being sent by the federal government. In order to both meet the legal mandate as a right-to-shelter city and provide high-quality shelter and services for those who enter our system, New York City needs additional federal resources immediately. If we do not get these urgently needed resources, we may struggle to provide the proper level of support our clients deserve, while also facing challenges as we serve both a rapidly growing shelter population and new clients who are seeking asylum. We are calling on the federal government to partner with New York City as we help asylum seekers navigate this process, and to provide financial and technical resources. By law, asylum seekers have a right to be in the United States while they seek humanitarian protection. In New York City, we are responsible for the provision of services and infrastructure for newly arrived asylum seekers and currently residing populations alike. We've been in discussions with our federal partners on this matter and look forward to a quick resolution."
In response, the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless decried the mayor's comments, condemning continued encampment sweeps and calling on City Hall to appropriate more funding to bolster affordable housing development.
"Let's be clear: the growing shelter census crisis squarely falls at the mayor's feet, and asylum seekers shouldn't shoulder the blame for this," the organizations said in a joint statement. "So long as City Hall allows bureaucratic obstacles to remain in place, hampering our clients' ability to transition from shelters to long-term and safe affordable housing - which remains in scant supply - this crisis won't abate anytime soon, and we call for more funding to develop housing truly affordable for our homeless neighbors. Lastly, we condemn the administration's continued militarized encampment sweeps which inflict trauma, create conflict, and separate our clients from what few belongings they own. This inhumane policy defines the Adams Administration, and it tarnishes New York's reputation as an ostensibly progressive city with empathy for our fellow human beings."
Also Tuesday, Mayor Adams, veteran civil rights advocate and former executive director of the New York Civil Liberties Union Norman Siegel, and Community Healthcare Network president and Coalition for the Homeless founder Robert Hayes announced the launch of the Street Homeless Advocacy Project (SHAP), a volunteer outreach initiative to provide direct support to those experiencing homelessness.
Led by Siegel and Hayes in conjunction with the Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing, the New York Legal Assistance Group, and the Doe Fund, the new initiative will help train New Yorkers to become volunteer advocates for those experiencing homelessness.
"The Street Homeless Advocacy Project is another step in the right direction when it comes to helping our brothers and sisters experiencing homelessness," Adams said. "Since we started this work, we've made great strides, and I know we can do better. It won't be easy, but we can no longer just walk by and pretend this is someone else's problem. We have a moral duty to try to break this cycle of neglect and despair. With New Yorkers helping New Yorkers, I know we can build trust with homeless New Yorkers and provide them with the resources they need to come off of the streets or out of the subways and find shelter."
SHAP will train volunteers to engage and build trust with those experiencing homelessness, and offer services ranging from independent housing options, safe haven beds, as well as mental health and substance use programs.
Volunteer advocates will go through a comprehensive application and vetting process before they start. When teams go out, they will be equipped with specific and direct links to the array of residential alternatives to the streets available to homeless individuals, as well as other support services like soup kitchens and medical services.
In addition to the Street Homeless Advocacy Project, any New Yorker who sees someone in need of assistance can call 311 or file a report through the 311 app.