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City Limits: ‘They Assigned Us Far Away’: As Shelter Limit Policy Expands, Some Families Are Already Too Familiar

The City released a new policy on Monday, October 16th limiting newly arrived immigrant families to only 60 days in shelters. NYLAG’s Deborah Berkman talked with CityLimits about the dangers and negative impact this policy will have on families, especially children. 

In a press release, the Adams administration said that recently-arrived immigrant families with minor children will be subject to a limit of 60 days in shelter and will receive intensified case management—a policy modeled after one instituted for adults without children over the summer.   

There are currently 118,000 people staying across the city’s shelter systems, according to City Hall, compared to about 60,500 in January 2022. Of this population, more than 64,000 are recently-arrived immigrants, who came to New York City in large numbers starting in the spring of last year. More than 75 percent are parents and children. 

“When a family’s shelter time is up, they can return to the city’s asylum seeker intake center and apply for another placement—a process advocates have denounced as unnecessarily disruptive, especially for families with school-aged children. 

Deborah Berkman, supervising attorney of the Shelter Advocacy Initiative at New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), agreed that denying alternative placements to families would be a “clear violation” of [Boston v. City of New York, establishing the right to shelter for families with minor children].

“’Moving families around every 60 days could violate Boston’s decency requirement,’ Berkman said.  

“I believe moving people around every 60 days is neither safe, sanitary nor decent,’ Berkman said. “It’s extremely punitive to children who are innocent victims of these policies. And these families came here for a new and better life for their children. Why are we treating these children so badly?’” 

Read the full piece by Emma Whitford and Daniel Parra in CityLimits from October 18, 2023 

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