Legal Aid, Coalition for the Homeless Condemn City for Violating Local Law by Denying Homeless Families With Minor Children Shelter Placements

(NEW YORK, NY) – The Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless released the following statement in response to reporting by NBC 4 New York and confirmation from clients and the City, which revealed that the City violated local law by denying multiple homeless families with minor children, including asylum seekers, immediate placement at local shelters this past Sunday, forcing these families to sleep overnight in a waiting room at the New York City Department of Homeless Services’ Prevention Assistance and Temporary Housing (PATH) intake center in the Bronx:

“City Hall flouted a clear statute and a court settlement by denying these families with minor children, including
asylum seekers, placement at local shelters, relegating them to spend the night, and in some cases days, sleeping
in a City office. To cover up for this gross malfeasance, Mayor Adams made a press announcement blaming
asylum seekers for adding to the New York City’s burgeoning shelter census in a cynical attempt to control

In the last ten years, the City has violated this law only one other time, and when it did, the previous administration notified Legal Aid and the Coalition immediately – in stark contrast to the current administration’s efforts to hide the needless trauma being inflicted on these vulnerable families.

The law is clear, and this administration violated it. We met with the administration last week about the low
vacancy rate in the shelter system for families with minor children and raised the need for the City to increase the
number of available beds, which could easily be secured through agreements with local hotels. The City could
also create space in the shelter system by removing the many layers of red tape that hamper our clients’ ability to
transition from shelter to permanent housing. They hinted at a possible influx of families in need of shelter from
the border and agreed to notify us of additional capacity planned to address the rising need, but have yet to do so.

Our request is simple: The City must meet its legal and moral obligation to ensure that every family who comes
through PATH before 10:00 p.m. is provided with an appropriate shelter placement and can sleep in a bed at
night, and is treated with dignity and humanity. Should the administration continue to ignore their legal
responsibilities and put these families at risk, we’ll see them in court.”

According to a report, which ran on NBC 4 New York, one family from Venezuela has been waiting at PATH for five days for a shelter placement.

The NYC Administrative Code, § 21-313, states: “The [Department of Homeless Services] shall maintain a facility open for intake twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week to accept and process applications for shelter from families with children. Any family with children seeking shelter who is still in the process of applying as of ten o’clock in the evening on the day such family sought shelter shall be provided temporary shelter placement for that night. The following morning the family shall return to the intake facility to complete the application process. The department shall arrange transportation for the families to and from the temporary shelter placement.”