Legal Aid Society


LAS: Emergency Housing Facilities Must Comply with Right to Shelter Laws

The Legal Aid Society is supporting a pair of City Council bills, introduced by Council Member Shahana Hanif, aimed at protecting asylum seekers in need of shelter in New York City.

The first bill would require emergency housing facilities to meet the same standards applied to City shelters under New York’s right-to-shelter laws. In addition to ensuring individuals have access to shelter, these laws include minimum standards for things like bed spacing, working showers and toilets, and access to laundry. With the surge in migrants arriving in the City, advocates worry that the new Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers (HERCCS) do not meet these basic levels of health and safety.

“New York is a right-to-shelter city, and all homeless New Yorkers deserve the same protections regardless of if they reside in a Department of Homeless Services (DHS) shelter or a Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Center,” said Kathryn Kliff, an attorney with the Civil Law Reform Unit at The Legal Aid Society.

“The Legal Aid Society lauds Council Member Hanif for introducing this legislation, and we implore the City Council to advance it immediately,” she continued. “With more and more migrants coming to New York seeking our help, we must ensure that HERCCS comply with the well-established court orders, as well as state and local law.”

The second bill would require residents in communal HERRC settings to be made aware of their option to enter the City’s shelter system. If an individual chooses this option, the City must provide immediate transportation to an appropriate DHS facility. If an individual chooses this option, the City must provide transportation to an appropriate DHS facility. system.