Legal Aid Society


LAS Calls for Increased Capacity, Support as Demand for Shelters Surges

Today, The Legal Aid Society, the Coalition for the Homeless, and elected officials gathered on the steps of City Hall ahead of the New York City Council’s oversight hearing on the longstanding issues with the shelter intake process for homeless families, to demand answers from the City on its plan to address the surge in applications, and the need for affordable housing and adequate shelter capacity.

This comes after Mayor Adams’ unsupported claims that recent increases in the shelter census are due primarily to an influx of asylum seekers. This perpetuates dangerous misinformation and misunderstandings about the true sources of mass homelessness in New York City, and it deflects responsibility from the City and State – especially as the current surge in the need for shelter beds was entirely predictable.

“The City has a moral and legal obligation to ensure that everyone, including asylum-seeking families, are able to obtain shelter,” said Adriene Holder, Chief Attorney of the Civil Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “Until enough affordable housing exists to transition these New Yorkers to a permanent home, the City must comply with the law and a court order by bolstering the stock of available beds.”

The Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless’ testimony at today’s hearing included key steps that the City and State can take to immediately address the growing crisis including ensuring capacity at shelters by maintaining a five percent vacancy rate, investing in affordable housing, and expanding housing subsidies. The organizations further called on the State to pass “Good Cause” eviction protections to keep people out of shelters to begin with.