NY SANE, Coalition for the Homeless, The Legal Aid Society, Win, Housing Justice for All, Host Rallies in NYC and Albany to Save Legal Right to Shelter

“Hochulville” Tent Cities Feared if Mayor Adams and Governor Eliminate Essential Shelter Protections

(NEW YORK, NY) – The NY SANE coalition, including Coalition for the Homeless, The Legal Aid Society, Win, the Episcopal Diocese of New York, and Housing Justice for All – representing hundreds of housing and tenant organizations, labor unions, faith groups, advocates, service providers, and other organizations throughout New York State – today joined in action to hold two major rallies in New York City and Albany in support of the legal Right to Shelter.

The growing coalition has come together to oppose Mayor Adam’s and Governor Hochul’s efforts to dismantle New York’s legal Right to Shelter – the core protection that has saved tens of thousands of lives over the last half-century and has prevented New York City from experiencing the massive tent encampments in public spaces so common in other major American cities. The groups called on both the Mayor and Governor to use the many resources and tools at their disposal to provide safe shelter to all who need it, move homeless longtime New Yorkers into permanent housing as quickly as possible, resettle new arrivals across the State, and pursue other common sense actions to stem the ongoing crisis.

“For the past 42 years, New York’s legal Right the Shelter has worked for our city. When people from LA or San Francisco come to NYC, they’re shocked by how different homelessness looks here, because we have long been committed to the ideal that no one should have to sleep on the streets. The Right to Shelter has already helped over a million homeless New Yorkers find a way off the streets, and dismantling that right will do nothing more than lead to the emergence of tent “Hochulvilles” and increased suffering among those most in need. Mayor Adams’ and Governor Hochul’s attack on this fundamental right is cruel, counter-productive, and unnecessary, given the tools and resources that the City – and, even more so, the State – have to address the current crisis,” said Dave Giffen, Executive Director of the Coalition for the Homeless.

“The City’s revised application, supported by the State, would decimate Right to Shelter, protections that have defined our city and served as a lifeline for New Yorkers in need,” said Adriene Holder, Chief Attorney of the Civil Practice at The Legal Aid Society. “Working with both Albany and City Hall, we’ve identified various resources to help the City meet this moment, but our leaders have failed to follow through on these solutions. Instead of pursuing an outcome that will only lead to mass street homelessness and increased suffering, Governor Hochul and Mayor Adams must fully execute these additional steps to increase shelter capacity and transition homeless New Yorkers from shelter to permanent housing.”

“We have learned through helping people living with HIV, that the more stable your housing, the better your care. Mayor Adams’s goal is to retrogress New York City to the ‘70s, a time when thousands of homeless New Yorkers were forced to fend for themselves on the streets and suffered and died from terrible injuries. Mayor Adams’ cruel attempt to end right to shelter and scapegoat New Yorker’s newly arrived immigrant families and individuals will have negative effects on the physical and mental health of our most at-risk New Yorkers and will ultimately end up costing the city more. New York is a sanctuary city and must remain one to protect our most vulnerable New Yorkers. To diminish this right is imposing cruel and unusual punishment”, stated Anthony Feliciano, VP of the Advocacy Department at Housing Works.

“The right to shelter ensures no New Yorker has to sleep on the streets, which is especially important as we head into the coldest months of the year. But this is more than a humane and compassionate policy — it’s a statement that we believe no one should be condemned to die of exposure on our watch. Rolling back the right to shelter will not only result in more people living in unsafe conditions and undermine our efforts to break the cycle of homelessness, but will fray the moral fiber of our city,” said Christine Quinn, President and CEO of Win. “Ending the right to shelter paves the way for children as young as infants being forced onto the streets, and it sends a message that New York City is turning its back on our most vulnerable and newest New Yorkers — and that is simply not who we are. The Mayor and Governor must drop their attacks on the right to shelter and work with advocates to pursue common sense, humane solutions to the homelessness crisis.”

“We’ve heard again and again over the last year and a half that New York City is the only place with a Right to Shelter Law. That’s simply not true. Right to Shelter is a statewide obligation. The governor has not only failed to uphold that right, she’s refused to acknowledge it exists. Meanwhile, the mayor has been steadily trying to strip away the right to shelter since before the first bus arrived. New Yorkers have a right to shelter. It’s been a moral right throughout our city’s history, and a legal right for over four decades – it doesn’t disappear in the face of a crisis. The right to shelter isn’t failing – our leaders are,” said Public Advocate Jumaane Williams.

“As winter approaches, guaranteeing access to shelter is crucial to asylum seeking families seeking stability and safety. With the City moving to eliminate the right to shelter, asylum seekers—both families and single adults—are already lining up in the cold awaiting new shelter placements and are at a greater risk of becoming homeless. We must defend and uphold the right to shelter to ensure that every individual, regardless of immigration status, has a secure bed,” said Comptroller Brad Lander.

“As a healthcare worker, I found myself homeless twice and I know the importance of the Right to Shelter. Everyone deserves a home with the comfort and stability it affords. We need elected leaders that are interested in crafting real solutions to homelessness—not scapegoating migrant families,” said Cheryl John, 1199SEIU.