A judge has ordered New York to stop using a school to house migrants, calling the Right to Asylum law a "relic of the past," as reported New York Times.
On Tuesday, September 26, a Staten Island judge ordered the city to stop using a former Catholic school building as a 300-person migrant shelter, calling the Right to Housing Act a “relic of the past.” Judge Wayne Ozzie issued a preliminary injunction preventing the city from filling the former St. John Villa asylum seekers.
Last month, the Adams administration persuaded the state Appellate Division to keep the Staten Island shelter open for several hours after the same judge issued a previous order to close it. City officials immediately vowed to appeal the decision, and mayoral spokesman Eric Adams said it “threatens to disrupt efforts to address the nation's humanitarian crisis.”
relic of the past
Meanwhile, a Staten Island lawyer also had some harsh words for the city's Right to Housing Law, which since 1981 has required residents of the five boroughs to provide housing to anyone who applies for it. Ozzie argued that the 1981 agreement was “designed to solve a problem that is as different as night and day from today,” and called the law “an anachronistic relic of the past.”
“The agreement was made to solve a specific problem that existed at the time - providing housing to unfortunate New Yorkers who needed it,” Ozzie writes. “No one can argue that there was a situation then on the scale of what we have today—a virtual influx of migrants seeking asylum that could fill two Yankee Stadiums and equal one-fifth of the population of Staten Island,” he said.
Ozzie's decision comes two weeks after lawyers for Staten Island resident Scott Herkert, who sought to have the shelter closed, argued at a hearing that the shelter poses an “unreasonable nuisance to the public,” including because he allegedly smells raw sewage from a shelter in his home next door.
The city's attorney argued that Herkert's complaints did not rise to the level of so-called "irreparable harm" that must be found by a judge to order the shelter closed, and accused Herkert and other local residents of "simply not wanting to live near the shelter." "
The authorities' reaction to the ban
“New Yorkers are tired of bearing the brunt of this national crisis, and we understand their concerns,” Adams' spokesman said in a statement after the ruling.
“We have received more than 2022 asylum seekers since spring 116, and on average more than 000 migrants continue to arrive each month to claim asylum. With 10 sites already open, including 000 large-scale humanitarian aid centres, any sites we currently find are the only options left.”
Authorities said they are taking steps to immediately appeal the decision, which they say is flawed in key ways and threatens to derail efforts to resolve this national humanitarian crisis. They believe cases like these highlight the urgent need for a broader state and national solution.
In May, City Hall moved to address the migrant housing crisis by temporarily reducing housing requirements for homeless families to make room for asylum seekers. However, the Legal Aid Society has teamed up with former city social services commissioner Steve Banks, now with the law firm Paul Weiss, to take on City Hall.
Lawyers in the “right to housing” case sat behind closed doors in Manhattan Supreme Court on Tuesday. Judge Erica Edwards, emerging from her courtroom after the hearing, said all parties were “certainly making progress” toward reaching an agreement.
The city now has until October 3 to put forward its ideas on how to change the city's Right to Shelter before Legal Aid has a chance to weigh in on the issue.