City Council grills NYC over new policy limiting shelter stays for adult migrants

ByAnthony Carlo WABC logo
Thursday, August 10, 2023
NYC officials grilled over new shelter policy for adult migrants
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City Council grilled the city over conditions at the Roosevelt Hotel, and its new policy that limits adult migrants sheltered by the city to 60 days. Reporter Anthony Carlo has the story.

MANHATTAN, New York (WABC) -- New York City officials were on the hot seat in front of City Council committees on Thursday, answering questions about a new policy to limit shelter stays for adult migrants.

The committees grilled the city over the conditions at the Roosevelt Hotel, and its new policy that limits adult migrants sheltered by the city to 60 days.

"I don't want to throw migrants in a pool of water not knowing if they can swim," City Council Deputy Speaker Diana Ayala said. "I want to know if they can swim."

It appeared as though they didn't even have life vests by the looks of the Roosevelt Hotel just a week ago.

The intake center overflowed with asylum seekers desperate for shelter.

The reason the city wants to limit shelter stays for adult migrants is to free up critical space for families and children.

The council committees pushed back on it on Thursday.

"Who concluded that this was the best avenue," Ayala said.

"The city must use every tool at our disposal," said Zach Iscol of the New York City Department of Emergency Management. "We do not want anyone sleeping on our streets. I hope it's that understanding."

Meanwhile on Thursday, Eyewitness News got a first look at an unused hangar at John F. Kennedy Airport that is now being used for emergency shelter.

"This is a complicated issue for everyone all around," xx said.

New York City Mayor Eric Adams met with the senior adviser to President Joe Biden on Thursday.

The mayor's chief of staff said the discussion between them was complicated.

The city continued to ask for federal help, including a decompression strategy at the border.

"There are different ways to get resources to New York City as we continue to manage this humanitarian crisis and we were happy to have the opportunity to talk to him about the ways we think the federal government can help us," Mayor Adam's Chief of Staff Camille Joseph Varlack said.

"The people here, they did not talk to me today about pain and suffering, all they are asking is 'give me a job,'" Congressmember Nydia Velazquez said.

Lawmakers toured the Roosevelt Hotel on Thursday, putting the onus on the Biden administration to expedite work permits so the city does not have to resort to shelter time limits.

Since late July, 913 notices have been sent out to migrants who have been in the city's care for more than 60 days. If they don't find alternative housing, they have to re-apply at the Roosevelt Hotel.

"60 days is not an acceptable number nor a number the congresswoman or I standby," City Councilmember Julie Won said. "To say you have 60 days to stay in the city or get out."

Concerns here of course are that the city has a right to shelter law and the City Council does not want this to turn into rampant homelessness.

The city says the administration will adjust that policy if it results in "a marked increase" of migrants back out on the streets.

Case workers are working with them and 65% of them have said they are ready to make an exit plan with the city.


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