Parent Holding Child Facing Camera

Testimony: Asylum-Seeking Families Need More Humane Intake and Sheltering Services

In recent weeks, there has been a major influx of asylum-seeking families in New York City. Often fleeing unspeakable horrors in their home countries, families are met with underfunded and understaffed shelters and services, and are often re-traumatized when trying to access the Department of Homeless Services’ (DHS) shelter system. Deborah Berkman, the coordinating attorney of the Shelter Advocacy Initiative at the New York Legal Assistance Group (NYLAG), spoke before the New York City Council Committee on General Welfare about these long-standing issues.

Below is an excerpt from her testimony.

“The client stories I have shared have much in common: a traumatic danger-filled journey to escape life threatening conditions in their home country, being forced to stay at a PATH intake center for extended periods of time waiting for shelter placement, xenophobic treatment once the family enters shelter, and insufficient water and supplies within the shelter.”

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