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Asylum Seekers Could Cost NYC $12 Billion, Mayor Adams Says

NYC announces $12 billion projected cost for asylum seekers' needs. Mayor Adams is making local changes and calling for state and federal support.

Mayor Eric Adams announced Wednesday a $12 billion total cost estimate from 2022 through July 2025 to shelter and care for tens of thousands of newly arrived asylum seekers. 

Nearly 100,000 asylum seekers have arrived in New York since last spring, of which the city is currently caring for 57,300 individuals (25,600 households). 

The mayor reiterated the need for the state and the federal governments to help ease the pressure on the City’s resources. “New Yorkers’ compassion may be limitless but our resources are not,” Adams said. “Our partners at the state and federal levels notice. We continue to face impossible decisions about allocating our resources.”

From the state, key requests include state-run relief sites and humanitarian centers and more funding to support the city’s response. From the federal government, he called for an expedited path for work authorization and more funding. In addition to this, Adams requested a decompression strategy on the state and federal level to ease pressure on the city, adding that the federal government needs to declare a state of emergency to allow federal funds to be allocated quickly to help address the urgent challenges.

Through July of 2023, the City has paid an average of $383 per household per night. Housing and rent has taken 38% of the costs; services and supplies have been 37%, including baby supplies, clothing, laundry room provision, trash bags, metro cards, case management services staff, security and legal services staff amongst others; IT, administrative costs, and other at 10%; medical at 8% and food at 7%.

The Mayor’s Office of Management and Budget explained in a media briefing Documented attended that the key implication is that the cost associated with the current population in the City’s shelter system — if that were to stabilize — already exceeds the adopted budget amount of $2.9 billion for FY 2024, and $1 billion for FY 2025.

However, because the City has seen the population of newly arrived asylum seekers grow every week since April 2022, it is expected that the census would only keep growing, as opposed to stabilizing. Deputy Mayor Anne William-Isom said during the conference that a total of 2,900 asylum seekers arrived in the city last week.

Also Read: Residents Protest Migrant Shelter at Sunset Park Center

Last month, Mayor Adams announced that single adult asylum seekers will need to reapply for shelter after 60 days in care. With this policy and others in the works, the City plans to reduce the rate of population growth in the shelter system by 20% — which would bring down the daily growth from 69 households per day to 55.

Also Read: New York Announces 60-Day Limit to Stays in City Shelters

The City did not disclose what further policy changes would be. However, part of those changes include hopes that work permits and availability would enable the asylum seekers to move out of the City’s shelter system soon, if expedited.  

So far, 50% of the City’s spending has been in the Department of Social Services; 34% in NYC Health + Hospitals; and the residual across 13 other agencies. DSS and HH have been the two city departments taking the lead on sheltering. 

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