Christine Quinn, CEO of the major New York City shelter provider Win, lauded Mayor Eric Adams Monday for seeking to work with other cities to address the ongoing migrant crisis, following his visit to El Paso, Texas over the weekend.
About 40,000 migrants have arrived in the city since last spring, which has placed an extra strain on homeless shelters like Win and other services. Speaking with Gothamist on Monday, Quinn acknowledged the mayor’s efforts in confronting the issue and offered up additional actions the government should also take.
“I support the mayor very much in reaching out to other cities to find best practices, or to more strongly as a group, send a message to the federal government that more has to be done,” Quinn, a former speaker of the New York City Council said.
In a speech in El Paso on Sunday, Adams said that mayors of cities across the country must work together to come up with solutions, but said it would ultimately be up to the federal government to implement the necessary reforms. Adams has also pleaded with the Biden administration to provide more financial aid.
He also submitted an emergency request to Gov. Kathy Hochul last week for the state to build a 500-person shelter for asylum seekers. The governor's office said it was reviewing the request, though it also said the federal government should do more to help confront the crisis.
Quinn said she agreed with Adams that the state and federal governments should step up to provide more support – but added that there are also policy changes at the city level that could help alleviate pressure on service providers.
For months, Quinn has been calling on Adams to change a city rule that requires New Yorkers to be in a shelter for 90 days before they can apply for a rental assistance program that can help them move into permanent housing – and a coalition of 43 shelter providers and advocates have echoed that call. Allowing shelter residents to move out sooner could free up space in shelters for others, including asylum seekers, she said.
Her nonprofit Win is currently housing more than 270 families seeking asylum, with more than 700 children.
Asked about the rule in August, Charles Kretchmer Lutvak, a spokesperson for the mayor’s office, told Gothamist that city officials are working to cut red tape and “reduce administrative burdens on New Yorkers, so that residents can access safe, quality, affordable permanent housing as quickly as possible.”
After publication, City Hall spokesperson Kate Smart noted that Adams announced reforms to the housing voucher program in November that aim to make it more efficient and expand eligibility. But the city stopped short of eliminating the 90-day requirement, which Smart said “helps to target those households that are most in need.”
At the federal level, Quinn said the most pressing reform would be around making it easier for asylum seekers to get authorized to work. As it stands, people must wait 150 days after submitting their application for asylum to apply for work authorization.
She added that if there is more funding coming in, it should trickle down to service providers. Win estimates it has spent $1 million more than it budgeted for this fiscal year in order to meet the needs of asylum seekers, since many arrive without basic necessities such as winter clothes.
“Right now New York is doing what New York does – opening up its arms, embracing people in need, welcoming immigrants,” Quinn said. “But we need support to be able to continue to do that at a high level.”
This story has been updated to include comment from City Hall spokesperson Kate Smart.