Governor Hochul, Save New York’s Right to Shelter

November 2023  

The Honorable Kathy Hochul  
Governor of the State of New York  
NYS Capitol Building  
Albany, NY 12224  

Dear Governor Hochul: 

For more than forty years, New York’s bedrock Right to Shelter has served as an inviolable baseline of humanity and decency, ensuring that people without homes are not relegated to bedding down in public spaces, dangerously exposed to the elements.  It is because of this right that New York City does not have the vast tent encampments seen in so many other cities around the country.  Since 1981, the Right to Shelter has meant that hundreds of thousands of homeless individuals have had an alternative to sleeping on the streets.  Simply put, the Right to Shelter saves lives, and is integral to the humanity of our community. 

We, the undersigned organizations, are vehemently opposed to your and Mayor Adams’ efforts to undermine the legal Right to Shelter for both new arrival and longtime New Yorkers, and see such efforts as not only an abrogation of your moral and legal duties, but as a betrayal of the proud history of New York State as a beacon of humane and progressive values as expressed in Article XVII of the New York State Constitution, stating: 

The aid, care and support of the needy are public concerns and shall be provided by the state and by such of its subdivisions, and in such manner and by such means, as the legislature may from time to time determine.  

Further, we urge you to cease spreading the false narrative that people from other nations would simply cease coming to New York City if there were no Right to Shelter.  People come to New York because it has a well-earned reputation as a welcoming and tolerant city of humane values, of opportunity, and of diverse cultures. That will not change, nor do we believe it should change.  And thus gutting the Right to Shelter will not deter people from coming here.  In fact, between 1970 and 1980, roughly 80,000 immigrants per year came into the city – before there was a Right to Shelter.  

Destroying the legal Right to Shelter for homeless New Yorkers and newcomers would have a devastating impact on our community, would cause irreparable harm to countless people who lack a safe place to sleep, and would do nothing to solve the problems you are trying to address. 

With respect to solving those problems, we applaud you for the commitments you have made to help new arrivals process work authorizations and find employment and housing throughout the state, and we eagerly await updates to see how your plan does in fact help alleviate the strains on the relief systems.   

We do, however, continue to urge you to use the full authority and resources of your office to do more by implementing a comprehensive statewide decompression and resettlement plan for the new arrivals.  New Yorkers throughout the state are clearly anxious for a clear and coordinated response from your office.   

This is a moment in history that will define your legacy, and we stand ready to work with you to help ensure that all in our state – whether longtime New Yorkers or new arrivals – have access to decent shelter, sufficient food, and a clear pathway to housing and stability.  

It is time to end the chaos, to stand up for what’s right, and to ensure that no one in need is ever relegated to sleeping on the streets. 


Coalition for the Homeless
The Legal Aid Society  
For the Many
Hunger Free America
Coalition for Homeless Youth
Cabrini Immigrant Services of NYC
Ulster Immigrant Defense Network
Worker Justice Center of NY, Inc.
Equality New York
Transnational Villages Network – Red de Pueblos Transnacionales
Princess Diana Foundation
Jackson Heights Immigrant Solidarity Network
Henry Street Settlement
Saratoga Immigration Coalition
The Partnership To End Homelessness
Chinese-American Planning Council (CPC)
Community Voices Heard
The Gathering for Justice
Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York
Open Hearts Initiative
Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing
New York Civil Liberties Union/ACLU of New York
Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD)
Center for Community Alternatives
Safe Horizon
IMPACCT Brooklyn
Cooper Square Committee
Community Voices Heard
Fifth Avenue Committee
Neighbors Helping Neighbors
The Interfaith Alliance of Rochester
Housing Justice for All
New York County Defender Services
RENA (Riverside Edgecombe Neighborhood Association)
New Economy Project
Met Council on Housing
NY Working Families Party
Housing Rights Initiative
Unlock NYC
Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition
Housing Works
Catholic Migration Services
Caribbean Equality Project
New York City Community Land Initiative
This Land is Ours CLT
Open New York
Neighbors Together
Western Queens Community Land Trust
Riverside Language Program, Inc.
Saving Justice newsletter
Sanctuary for Families
Samaritan Daytop Village, Inc
United Madrassi Association Inc.
The Ali Forney Center
Refugee and Immigrant Support Services of Emmaus, Inc.
Corporation for Supportive Housing
Strong Economy For All Coalition
For the Many
Roads to Success
University Settlement
United Neighborhood Houses
The Health & Housing Consortium
Volunteers of America-Greater New York
Interfaith Assembly on Homelessness and Housing
American Civic Association
The Harding Ford Vision, Inc
Brooklyn Level Up
Parents Supporting Parents NY
Build For Good
The Children’s Village
Jews for Racial and Economic Justice (JFREJ)
WIN – Women in Need, Inc.
Public Health Solutions
Urban Pathways
Covenant House New York
Workers United NY NJ Regional Joint Board a/w SEIU
Rising Ground, Inc.
Invest In Our New York
Citizen Action of New York
Women’s Housing and Economic Development Corporation
Metropolitan Community Church of New York
Mobilization for Justice
New York City Employment and Training Coalition
National Youth Rights Association – NYRA
Health x Housing Lab at NYU Langone Health
Tenants & Neighbors
UM Church of the Village
Children’s Rights
Make the Road NY
New York Legal Assistance Group
The New York Women’s Foundation
Shower Power, Inc.
Judson Memorial Church