State court tells New York City to spell out needs in migrant crisis

By Rachel Nostrant

NEW YORK (Reuters) – A New York State Supreme Court judge on Friday ordered the city of New York to spell out what it needs from the state to solve its migrant housing crisis, ratcheting up pressure on authorities struggling to respond as thousands of migrants seek refuge in the city.

The order by New York State Supreme Court Judge Erika Edwards came after a hearing the Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless had asked the court to hold Friday, citing a 1981 consent decree under which the city and the state must shelter those in need.

By stepping in, the court is effectively insisting the city and state can no longer leave asylum seekers to sleep on sidewalks or languish in days-long lines for intake processing.

New York City has declared a state of emergency in response to tens of thousands of migrants who have come to the city, some bused in from states along the U.S. southern border in a political dispute over border security.

Edwards gave the city until Wednesday to identify state facilities and resources it needs to provide appropriate shelter. The state would then have until Aug. 15 to respond.

“We’re happy about this, because I do not believe that Governor [Kathy] Hochul has been taking this situation seriously in any way,” Dave Giffin, executive director at the Coalition for the Homeless, told Reuters.

Following the court order, the New York City mayor’s office said the city needed state and federal support to address a crisis, without offering specifics.

“We need all of our partners to step up and treat this crisis like the emergency that it is, instead of abandoning New York City to provide shelter and care for more than 95,000 asylum seekers by ourselves,” the statement from Mayor Eric Adams’ office said.

“As we have been warning for months, our shelter system has buckled as its population has more than doubled in a single year.”

The governor’s office declined to comment on pending litigation, but referred to Hochul’s comments this week about support she has provided that included offering a former psychiatric facility that could be used as a shelter.

(Reporting by Rachel Nostrant; editing by Donna Bryson and Deepa Babington)