Immigrant Advocates & Allies Rally & “Sleep In” at Gracie Mansion, Demand Adams Protect NYC’s Right to Shelter

Immigrant Advocates & Allies Rally & “Sleep In” at Gracie Mansion, Demand Adams Protect NYC’s Right to Shelter

Photos courtesy of NYIC

By reeddunlea of NYIC | November 16, 2023

New York—On Thursday, November 16 at 10am, the New York Immigration Coalition (NYIC) and African Communities Together (ACT), along with elected officials, NYIC member organizations, housing allies, community groups and immigrant New Yorkers held a rally, “sleep in,” and press conference at Gracie Mansion urging Mayor Adams to stop attacking New York City’s right to shelter policy and scapegoating asylum seekers.

Earlier this fall, the city announced it will limit shelter stays for immigrant families with children to 60 days and 30 days for single adult men as asylum seekers continue to arrive. More recently, the Adams administration stated that it would start issuing tents to newly arrived asylum seekers, instead of offering shelter placements, in direct contradiction to New York City’s right to shelter policy. As New York enters the colder months, asylum seekers now face the additional challenge of navigating the city’s complex rules to maintain their temporary housing or risk ending up on the streets without any way to shelter their families.

Photos (credit: Hannah La Follette Ryan) and videos are available here

The Facebook Live stream is available here

“As thousands of newly arrived asylum seekers attempt to find a home in our City, Mayor Adams is doing everything in his power to create a hostile environment. From undoing our Right-To-Shelter protections to serving asylum seekers with eviction notices, this Mayor is demonstrating cruelty when this City needs to be leading with compassion,” said Council Member Shahana Hanif, Distinct 39, Committee on Immigration Chair. “I’m proud to stand in solidarity with so many advocates as they demand Mayor Adams protect our immigrant communities, no matter where they come from. This is the time to be expanding social services and supportive programs to our newest arrivals, not cut them.”

“The solution to our growing housing crisis is not cutting the safety net from our vulnerable communities but funding and supporting the agencies equipped to move houseless populations into permanent, dignified housing. Our Right to Shelter law is not a burden to be litigated but a source of pride and a beacon of hope for many. It is cruel to debate whether or not human beings deserve a place to stay, especially as we enter the winter season and face growing living costs,” said Council Member Carmen De La Rosa, District 10.

“New York City’s right to shelter is both our legal and moral obligation. Mayor Adams’ attempts to dismantle it endangers our most vulnerable New Yorkers who are facing all-time high rents, stagnant wages, and increasingly delayed receipt of their benefits. The combined pressures on households are significant, and the removal of even this one protection, right to shelter, threatens the wellbeing of our City,” said Council Member Jennifer Gutierez, District 34.

“New York’s historic Right To Shelter policy has ensured that all who call New York home will be cared for with dignity and respect. Mayor Adams should be investing in our communities and strengthening our safety net rather than attacking a policy that has kept New Yorkers from living on the street because of the city’s affordability crisis. We have been proposing cost-saving and humane solutions to our overburdened shelter system for well over a year. Solutions like expanding CityFHEPS vouchers to New Yorkers regardless of immigration status and increased investments in legal services so asylum seekers can move forward their applications for legalization and work authorizations to get on the road to self-sufficiency and independence have fallen on deaf ears at City Hall. When we support our historically unhoused and newest neighbors, we are investing in the economy, community and culture of our city – and everyone who calls New York home,” said Murad Awawdeh, Executive Director, New York Immigration Coalition.

Photo by NYIC

“With Thanksgiving around the corner and another New York winter beginning, it’s shameful that Mayor Adams is going to court to gut the fundamental Right to Shelter,” said Amaha Kassa, Executive Director, African Communities Together. “Instead of putting migrant families out onto the streets after 60 days, the Mayor should be leading the way in finding solutions. Solutions like vouchers, hotel and office conversions, and more state and federal funding. Otherwise, the sleeping bags and tents that are in front of Gracie Mansion today will be all over New York’s streets tomorrow.”

“For many Caribbean LGBTQ+ immigrants and asylum seekers, including HIV-impacted people, New York’s Right to Shelter policy is a life-saving and affirming resource. Housing is a human right that NYC should provide regardless of immigration status and not dehumanize already vulnerable populations. Many of the barriers Queer Caribbeans encounter are rooted in ancestral trauma, unshackling from post-colonization, LGBTQ-related phobias within faith-based institutions and diaspora Caribbean communities, lack of access to culturally competent mental health resources, racism, and gender-based violence. The Right to Shelter policy directly provides a tangible impact on the lives of Caribbean LGBTQ+ people in Little Caribbean, Little Guyana, and throughout New York City. Many of the organization’s clients are asylum seekers and working-class and undocumented queer and trans Afro and Indo-Caribbean people of color. Many of our community members have been abandoned and rejected by their families, fleeing from their home country because of persecution, escaping death threats, employment and housing discrimination, anti-LGBTQ hate violence, and isolation. We call on Mayor Adams to eradicate the remnants of an inherited culture that criminalizes Caribbean LGBTQ+ people by investing in housing to foster safety, dignity, and healing,” said Mohamed Q. Amin, Executive Director, Caribbean Equality Project.

“Mayor Adams’ attempt to suspend New York City’s historic “right to shelter law” reflects not only his lack of care and compassion for the most vulnerable New Yorkers, but his administration’s insufficient response to address the City’s housing shortage and affordability crisis. Kicking migrant families out of shelters after 60 days and seeking permission to ignore the city’s long standing “right to shelter” law will not fix an overburdened shelter system or stop migrants from arriving in NYC. Implementing humane solutions in partnership with advocates on the frontline is where this administration should put their focus and funding,” said Carolyn Tran, Executive Director, Communities United for Status and Protection (CUSP). 

“The City’s revised application, supported by the State, would decimate the Right to Shelter, protections that have defined our city and served as a lifeline for New Yorkers in need,” said Adriene Holder, Chief Attorney of Civil Practice, The Legal Aid Society. “Working with both the Hochul and Adams administrations, we’ve identified various resources to help the City increase shelter capacity and transition homeless New Yorkers from shelter to permanent housing, and we are hopeful they will adopt these solutions instead of pursuing an outcome that will only lead to mass street homelessness and increased suffering.”

The notion that the Mayor can unilaterally suspend the legal right to shelter as soon as it becomes inconvenient is absurd. We are a sanctuary city, and we should be proud of that. New Yorkers have always welcomed immigrants. We still welcome them today,” said Ilze C. Thielmann, Director, Team TLC NYC.

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