In late May, Brooklyn President Antonio Reynoso criticized New York Mayor Eric Adams and his decision to revoke the right to asylum for immigrants. The head of Brooklyn found a more creative approach to solving the immigration crisis in the city.
Over 45 asylum seekers are in the care of the city right now. But urban shelters also house migrants who do not seek asylum. In total, the city now has to provide housing for about 000 people, and two-thirds of them are families with children.
New York City cannot cope with such an influx: they tried to take migrants to the north of the state, but the leadership of these regions refused to accept them and even sued the city; they are accommodated in school gyms, which cause indignation of parents; now they are going to equip churches for shelters, and their parishioners are not enthusiastic about the idea.
The mayor had to cancel the right to asylum, which operated in the city for many years. Immigrants can now be accommodated in more meager conditions than before (no separate kitchens and bathrooms). Adams is constantly asking for money from the state and federal government, but so far the ends are not making ends meet. The city has already spent more than $1 billion on asylum seekers and plans to spend four times that amount next year. Gov. Kathy Hokul gave the city $1 billion in immigration work in the Fiscal Year 2024 budget. But this is clearly not enough if New York does not change its approach to the crisis.
Antonio Reynoso believes that he has a recipe for a more effective solution to the problem. The key point is that the New York City Council must pass legislation giving the mayor the right to use his power to resolve the crisis through the private sector.
Such a law, according to Reynoso, should contain 4 points:
- Amend the Administrative Code by adding the arrival of migrants to the list of reasons why a city can declare a state of emergency.
- Require city hall to rent market apartments to house homeless families.
- Require landlords to give priority to the city when renting apartments, but on the condition that the mayor's office will rent them at market prices.
- Prohibit landlords from refusing city hall to rent an apartment for the duration of the emergency.
“Now is not the time to relinquish our responsibility to provide safe and decent housing for all in our city… I called on Hokul, Adams and City Council to pursue legal options that could open tens of thousands of vacant private apartments to people living in shelters.” Reynoso said, adding that the same responsibilities should be imposed on residents of other regions of New York State.
Stop “warehousing” apartments
Despite the dire need for safe and decent housing, some 89 rent-stable apartments and tens of thousands more with market rent remain empty. This is evidenced by a study by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) for 000.
Many apartments are empty due to "warehousing" - homeowners do not want to rent out some of their apartments in order to maintain high demand and prices in the housing market.
“We can renovate and rent out over 3500 NYCHA apartments that are empty because Mayor Adams stopped funding NYCHA's vacancy preparation program,” Reynoso said.
Send money in the right direction
Reynoso is proposing additional funding for the Department of Homeless Services (DHS) to send more staff to the job of finding permanent housing for shelter residents.
“We can fund the work of DHS staff who run the voucher program to help shelter residents find permanent housing. We can also extend housing voucher eligibility to illegal immigrants,” Reynoso added.
“If we work together, we can not only manage the current situation, but also change the way this city looks to all New Yorkers. Denying the right to asylum is not in the spirit of this city,” the president of Brooklyn concluded.