Legal Aid Society


LAS: Mayor's Proposal Could Dramatically Increase Street Homelessness

The Legal Aid Society and Coalition for the Homeless are vigorously opposing Mayor Eric Adams’ request to suspend the consent decree that grants a right to shelter for single homeless individuals in New York City.

In a letter to the court, the organizations explain that the Mayor’s proposal will “eviscerate the bedrock legal protections” that have served New Yorkers in need for over forty years.

It also warns that denying shelter to people would force longtime New Yorkers and recent migrants alike, to sleep in public and unsafe spaces: on sidewalks, in parks, and in the transit system, dramatically increasing the number of unhoused people living on the streets, as seen in cities like San Francisco and Los Angeles. 

Mass homelessness in New York City is not a recent phenomenon nor the sole fault of the recent influx of migrants. For forty years, the City has met its legal Right to Shelter obligations regardless of sharp increases in demand by mobilizing the resources necessary to help those in need — resources that still exist today. There are numerous common-sense ways to address the current situation that Legal Aid, the Coalition and other organizations touted for a year.

“Now more than ever, it is critical to uphold the provisions of New York City’s landmark Right to Shelter law in order to ensure the safety and well-being of thousands of unhoused New Yorkers,” said Adriene Holder, Chief Attorney of the Civil Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “The Adams Administration must not use temporary difficulties to justify the erasure of a law that has protected New Yorkers for decades from immeasurable harm and prevented our city from experiencing dangerous mass street homelessness.”