At a Council hearing short on details, officials from Mayor Eric Adams’ administration pinned the shelter population rise on newly arriving immigrants from the Southern Border.
New York City is now leasing 11 hotels for homeless families as the shelter population continues to rise amid record-high rents, lingering inflation and the well-publicized arrival of a number of asylum-seekers and other new immigrants.
Officials from Mayor Eric Adams’ administration disclosed the number of hotels rented out for families during a Council hearing Tuesday, just over seven months after the city phased out commercial lodgings for children following a substantial drop in the overall shelter population last year. City Limits first reported on the return to hotels last month.
But attempts by councilmembers to gain more concrete information about New York’s rising shelter census yielded little substantive information as the commissioners of the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) and the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs pleaded ignorance when asked for specific details.
Adams and his agency heads have said that more than 4,000 newly arrived immigrants have entered the shelter system, or at least visited an intake facility, since May. On Tuesday, Department of Social Services (DSS) Commissioner Gary Jenkins, who oversees DHS, repeated that estimate, but could not say how many of the new immigrants in shelters were children—a key consideration as the administration pins the rise in family homelessness on immigrants.
Jenkins told Bronx Councilmember Kevin Riley he would get back to him with specific data, reciting a common refrain throughout the proceedings that keeps concrete numbers out of the public record. DHS did not provide a response when asked by City Limits.
Overall, the DHS shelter census has increased from 46,591 people on Jan. 2 to 52,370 on Monday, according to data tracked each day by City Limits. The number of families with children in shelter has approached 10,000, up from less than 8,500 on Jan. 1.
“This uptick has been largely driven by an increasing migrant population seeking asylum,” Jenkins told the General Welfare Committee, adding that evictions, by contrast, have accounted for just 1 percent of people entering DHS shelter (The state’s eviction moratorium, in place during the pandemic to keep New Yorkers in their homes throughout the crisis, ended in January.)
Still, some advocates for homeless New Yorkers and a handful of councilmembers have questioned the figures that Adams and his agency heads have cited. In a statement ahead of the hearing, The Legal Aid Society and Coalition for the Homeless criticized the mayor’s“unsupported claims that recent increases in the shelter census are due primarily to an influx of asylum seekers.”
The two groups say they have unsuccessfully sought more complete information about the asylum-seeker tally from DHS—which does not ask for a person’s residency status at intake and instead relies on interviews and assumptions.
They also accused the Adams administration of using the presence of a certain number of immigrants to distract from broader problems with shelter capacity, rising homelessness and delayed move-outs into permanent housing. About 200 people a week are leaving shelters with housing vouchers, Jenkins told the Council. Meanwhile, he said, roughly 100 newly arriving immigrants are entering the system. That does not include an as yet untold number of New Yorkers seeking shelter for more traditional economic reasons—namely, that the rent is too high.
“I really hope that you can get clear data to understand what’s happening,” said Councilmember Lincoln Restler, a former aide to ex-Mayor Bill de Blasio who worked on issues around homelessness. “My strong suspicion is that we are experiencing an increase in the families with children census as a result of the eviction moratorium ending and a regular spike we see in the summer months [but] we are pointing to the immigrant community that is growing in New York City and asylum-seekers as the rationale.”
New York City is under unique court-orders to provide temporary shelter to any single adult who requests a bed and any family who proves they have nowhere else to stay. Historically, the vast majority of shelter residents come from within New York City, according to records reviewed by City Limits.
It is clear, however, that a sizable number of newly arrived immigrants and asylum-seeking families have entered the DHS shelter system—including some bused from Texas in a state-sponsored political stunt by far-right Gov. Greg Abbott—contributing to a steady rise in the number of people in emergency accommodations each night. City Limits encountered eight men outside the city’s homeless intake shelter Friday who had arrived via bus that morning after completing arduous journeys, mostly by foot, from Venezuela and Colombia and into Texas.
One who has a working cell phone and has been in consistent contact with City Limits said he is now staying at the cavernous Bedford Atlantic shelter in Brooklyn with just one set of clothes and no money.
The head of the New York City branch of Catholic Charities, Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, testified that his organization has so far assisted 1,100 newly arrived immigrants, predominantly young men from Venezuela. Some said they have entered city shelters while “some are sleeping in the parks,” he said. Most of all, the men say they want to work, Sullivan said.
“Some of them say, ‘I’m coming to New York because that’s where you make it,” he added.
The immigration issue has ignited a cross-country feud between Adams and Abbott, who began commissioning buses loaded with immigrants to New York City Aug. 3. The first arrived early Aug. 5. Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs Commissioner Manuel Castro told the Council that city officials only learned of the bus after they were alerted by the organization Grannies Respond. The bus company hired by Abbott to transport immigrants to New York signed non-disclosure agreements preventing them from sharing more information, Castro added.
Abbott’s spokesperson Renae Eze said Tuesday that five buses with 250 people have departed Texas for New York. Two buses pulled up at Port Authority on Wednesday morning, where they were greeted by aid groups and city officials. Not every immigrant on the buses has ended up in city shelters, and in at least one instance, the majority of passengers left for other destinations.
Eze said Texas plans to continue busing asylum seekers to both New York City and Washington D.C., where over 6,500 immigrants have been sent in over 160 buses.The Abbott buses coincide with efforts by nonprofits working near the Southern Border to help recently arrived immigrants travel to New York City.
During the hearing, General Welfare Committee Chair Diana Ayala acknowledged the unexpected increase in newly arrived immigrants, but attempted to separate the issue from other systemic problems. She questioned why DHS did not act to open additional shelter capacity earlier knowing that statewide eviction protections had come to an end, rents were soaring and a typical summertime surge was on the horizon. The shelter vacancy rate for families with children dipped below 1 percent in June, according to city data shared by Legal Aid.
“I think you had a little bit of a heads up and enough time to come up with a plan,” she said.
Jenkins in his opening remarks said the agency can meet the need. “While challenges have arisen, our existing system is withstanding the many stresses placed upon it,” he said.
Councilmembers, service providers and formerly homeless New Yorkers also criticized the shelter intake process, which forces families to visit a facility in The Bronx where more than half are initially denied a long-term placement.
“The clear solution is for the city to get serious about housing for homeless New Yorkers no matter where they come from,” said Karim Walker, an organizer with the Safety Net Project of the Urban Justice Center who has experienced homelessness.
DHS shelters are a last resort for most residents squeezed by a housing crisis and failed by other systems. With homelessness on the rise, Jenkins urged councilmembers to welcome new shelters in their districts to add capacity rather than oppose every site put forth by the city, as is often the case with the placement of such facilities.
The agency should soon get some more breathing room. An emergency declaration announced by Adams earlier this month will allow the city to bypass public review and quickly tap nonprofits to open an immigrant referral center and new shelters inside hotels, including a potential 600-unit facility outlined in a request for proposals first reported by the New York Post.
Adams has also requested reimbursement from the federal government to cover the costs of housing and serving newly arrived immigrants. But there, too, Jenkins and Castro avoided concrete answers.
Jenkins said the administration is still trying to determine “what the ask will be.”
Additional reporting by Daniel Parra.
12 thoughts on “NYC Now Leasing 11 Hotels for Families as Homeless Population Rises”
This is an issue & problem I’ve read in THE NEW YORK TIMES. A lot of pros & cons – reading the comments from New Yorkers. It’s an easy solution for the ‘piece of work’ Texas Governor to bus the illegals to NYC. There’s a Federal process being ignored and it becomes a burden on us NYC taxpayers to pick up the bill. Also, neighborhoods like Turtle Bay with homeless shelters struggle with problems like we have at DHP.
Okay, NYC is a sanctuary city but Manhattan has been overburdened with homeless under two de Blasio terms and now with Adams who also cannot find a solution to control it.
So, I wrote Mayor Adams, Manhattan Borough President Levine & CM Powers to put the illegals back on the bus with food to Austin – the State Capitol of Texas.
It’ll be less expensive to put them back on a bus – than pay for their housing accommodations.
Perhaps, on January 21 of 2021 President Biden shouldn’t have signed the Executive Order reversing President Trumps “Remain in Mexico” policy that was working. Biden also ended the building of the Wall, that was also working. NONE of you would be having to deal with the inhuman crisis if the POLICY had been left alone. Biden created this crisis without any planning. He purposely did this. I suppose you all should be asking yourselves WHY? You vote for this, what do you expect? Stop blaming Abbott.
He couldn’t get Biden to lift a finger to help him with this border chaos. Abbots protecting his STATE. Eventually, WE ALL ARE GOING TO BE BURDENED WITH THIS HUGE INFLUX OF PEOPLE who can’t speak English, have no jobs, health issues, and children who need schools to attend. VOTE FOR BIDEN AGAIN. you all deserve it.
We as New Yorkers always half too get the slack of anther state. Get mad with your immigrant send them here but we can’t go no where else and get the red carpet treatment. People that been in tenants building living in places we people need a change living with slum lords. Half too stay put because we helping outside folks crime already up. Now more crime waiting to happen trump keep them home joe bringing them here. And I’m not opposed too helping a fellow person but clean up home first then extend the olive branch. Welfare hotels back. No affordable houseing for us were we pay rent state going too have them live rent free. Something wrong with that.#sleeplessinthebronx
I feel for you. I’m originally from the Bronx. I hope it gets better for you.
this reminds me of stories of when fdr would not let at least 2 ships of Jewish immigramts escaping holocaust land in U.S. but sent them back to Europe/concentration camps.
Are you comparing a Nazi concentration camp to Texas?
Jewish refugees from World War II would have been thrilled to get into Mexico.
What an idiotic comment. You’re obviously misinformed and ignorant to make such an analogy.
11 neighborhoods ruined.
As a New Yorker who moved out of NYC in March 2033, because of evil-slumlords. I missed NYC but am afraid 😟😳 and sad to say as a native born NYC it hurts 🤕 to see what lovely NYC/NY have became under the hands of Demons-Democrats. I left NYC/NY in March to Texas where rents are cheaper and heck you can buy a 🧩 piece of land down here and pay less than $100 on line property tax
As a born native American New Yorker I left NYC for Texas lands are way cheaper down here and so are rents. I couldn’t deal with anymore slumlords bastard’s asshoes in NY. Rent high and everything high in NYC all you get in return is more fuck you in the ass by bullshits in NY
My name is Anthony Tyrone Martin,I left a message with the Public Advocate tel:1(212)669-7250 about this Mexican kicking everybody out their shelters and the overcrowdedness they’re causing,please make them do this,oh,I have to leave my shelter that I reside at.
This is outrageous. Put them back on the bus and return to sender!
Hotels should disclose if illegals are staying in their hotels so you have the option of NOT making a reservation with them.