Advocates rally to keep Right to Shelter law alive

The law has served New Yorkers experiencing homelessness for over 40 years but the influx of migrants has made the law face some new challenges.

Julia Joseph and Adolfo Carrion

Dec 5, 2023, 10:18 PM

Updated 225 days ago

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Concerned New Yorkers and advocates filled Bowling Green Park in lower Manhattan on Tuesday morning, begging the city and state to keep the Right to Shelter Law alive.  
The law has served New Yorkers experiencing homelessness for over 40 years, but the influx of migrants has made the law face some new challenges.  
Advocates fear that the likelihood of migrant and homeless children receiving proper opportunity will dwindle if the law does not stay in place.  
“Last night in shelter, there were more homeless children than there are seats in Madison Square Garden,” said Christine Quinn, president of nonprofit Women In Need, better known as WIN.  
New York City is the only major city in the United States that offers a legal right to shelter for any homeless person or family who requests it, but with over 150,000 migrants seeking shelter in NYC since last spring combined with the 89,000 people in the city’s homeless population, that law continues to be put under more and more pressure.  
“We will not allow the governor and the mayor to repeal the right to shelter,” said Quinn. “It is not just a directive we follow, it is who we are as a city.” 
In October, NYC filed a revised application for the Right to Shelter law to be temporarily lifted.  
In a statement, Gov. Kathy Hochul’s office referred to demonstrations like this one in Bowling Green as ‘political stunts’, going on to say that if advocacy groups could focus their resources on work authorization and other services, it would mean that “likely more migrants would have achieved legal work status and exited shelters by now.”  


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