NYC’s shelter system reaches a record 100,000 occupants

June 30, 2023

Image courtesy of mari small on Unsplash

New York City’s shelter system has surpassed 100,000 occupants for the first time, more than half of whom are asylum seekers, city officials announced this week. NYC is currently spending roughly $8 million a day on its shelter system, which has expanded to include 166 new emergency facilities to accommodate the surge in asylum seekers that began in the spring of 2022. The city is expected to spend more than $4 billion on its shelter system by 2024, according to the New York Times.

This week, city officials revealed that the number of asylum seekers in NYC’s shelter system had passed the number of local shelter residents. As of last weekend, 50,000 migrants were in the city’s care, overtaking the 49,700 homeless New Yorkers that are in the shelter system, many of whom have been in for years.

City lawmakers have used this milestone to once again call on the state and federal governments to help the five boroughs adequately address its migrant crisis. NYC officials have asked for help with finding migrants temporary homes outside of the city, help with feeding and housing those who are currently here, helping them acquire work permits, and helping them find lawyers to assist them in making asylum claims.

During a weekly press briefing on the migrant crisis, Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Ison touched on the growing necessity for aid from the state and federal governments:

“We have reached a tipping point. We now have more asylum seekers in our care than longtime New Yorkers from when we first came in and who are in our existing DHS system. We will continue to do our part,” Williams-Ison stated. “I might say we’re doing more than our part. But this is a national humanitarian crisis and we need sustained and profound support from the federal government in the form of financial aid and in the form of a national coordination.”

Williams-Ison also spoke about the influx of asylum seekers over the past week, saying that roughly 2,500 migrants had entered the shelter system, more than two-thirds of which have been families with children.

In April, New York State officials agreed to send $1 billion to help NYC offset the costs of its migrant crisis, according to the New York Post. The federal government has committed to contributing just $150 million.

Data shows that the shelter system’s nonimmigrant population might be growing as well. When Mayor Eric Adams first took office in April 2022, there were 45,000 people in the city’s main shelter system. That number has skyrocketed to over 81,000. Roughly 17,000 migrants currently reside in emergency facilities outside of the city’s main shelter systems, which include large hotels and other venues.

Earlier this month, Adams used his executive authority to end the 90-day shelter rule for homeless New Yorkers. The end of the rule, which mandated that all residents of NYC’s shelter system must reside in a shelter for at least 90 days before becoming eligible for a housing voucher, is meant to free up space in the shelter system for asylum seekers.

On Wednesday, the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant Affairs (MOIA) extended the contracts of 10 asylum seeker support centers and added a new support center to serve asylum seekers that have recently arrived in the city. These community-based centers were originally opened last fall and have been granted $2.3 million to build the city’s first Asylum Seeker Resource Navigation Center


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