ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — New York City is intensifying efforts to transport migrants out of the city as its shelter system reaches capacity, setting up a dedicated office to provide asylum-seekers with free, one-way tickets to anywhere in the world.
City Hall confirmed the establishment of a new “reticketing center” in Manhattan as its latest bid to ease pressure on its shelters and finances following the arrival of more than 130,000 asylum-seekers since last year.
Mayor Eric Adams, a Democrat, has described the situation as a crisis and has begun to warn that shelters are so full that migrants will soon be forced onto the street as winter approaches.
“I cannot say this enough. You know, we are out of the room,” he told reporters this week. “And it’s not ‘if’ people will be sleeping on the streets, it’s when. We are at full capacity.”
The city’s plan to offer migrants transportation builds upon previous efforts to send the asylum-seekers elsewhere, though the establishment of the dedicated reticketing center marks a renewed emphasis on the strategy.
The city has stressed that the offer for travel is voluntary.
The mayor’s office has recently limited adult migrants to 30 days in city shelters and 60 days for migrant families with children. Migrants, most of whom arrive without the legal ability to work, can reapply for housing if they are unable to find a new place to live.
A spokeswoman for Adams said about 20,000 people have received either 30- or 60-day notices. Less than 20% of people who have exceeded the limits are still in city shelters, she said. City Hall officials have said such statistics are proof that their policies are promoting migrants to find alternate housing.
Adams is also seeking seeking to suspend a unique legal agreement that requires New York City to provide emergency housing to homeless people. No other major U.S. city has such a requirement, and the mayor’s office has argued in court that the mandate was never meant to apply to an influx of migrants. A judge this month directed the city to enter mediation discussions with homeless advocacy groups to find a solution.
The mayor’s office said it has rushed to set up more than 200 emergency shelters to house migrants, including renting space in hotels and erecting large-scale facilities. More than 65,000 migrants are in city shelters.
Adams said he expects the influx to cost about $12 billion over the next three years.