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60-Day Shelter Limit is Ineffective, Comptroller Says

Despite promises, the City provides limited case management services that do little to help families achieve self-sufficiency, a new report from Comptroller Brad Lander found.
Comptroller Brad Lander on May 9, 2024.

New York City Comptroller Brad Lander released an investigation into the city's implementation of its 60-day shelter limit for asylum-seeking families Thursday and found that policy was haphazardly implemented, and that noitces to families, training fo staff and written guidelines were all inadequate. 

Lander announced the investigation on the first day that families were evicted and were told to re-apply for shelter in Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers (HERRCs), according to a news release.

The Comptroller’s office investigation found that 60-day notices failed to provide families with critical information about opportunities to seek exemption or reasonable accommodation, the rule undermined new arrivals’ ability to obtain work authorization and stable employment.​​​​

As a result of the rule, the City has issued 60-day notices to 10,229 families with children, affecting 19,497 adults and 18,149 children, as of April 28, according to the report.

"Back in January, the Adams Administration enacted a cruel policy of evicting families from shelter every 60 days with the empty promise of intensive case management, as a result, City Hall has subjected over 37,000 people to repetitive screenings for shelter alternatives, disrupted families’ efforts to obtain work authorization and legal status, and uprooted children from the schools where they made connections,” said Lander. “Beyond the cruelty of the policy, our investigation found significant management flaws in how City Hall is administering these evictions and how poorly they are tracking outcomes. Our City can do so much better.” 

The investigation report recommends the City should end the 60-day rule. Instead, the City should implement a policy that genuinely coordinates temporary shelter, legal assistance toward immigration status and work authorization, workforce development that enables people to obtain work, and case management that enables people to achieve self-sufficiency.

"From the start, the Council has been clear that the Administration's 60-day shelter limit policy would be counterproductive and destabilizing for our new arrivals, and to our goal of helping them achieve self-sufficiency,” said Council Speaker Adrienne Adams. “As the policy has impacted increasing numbers of children and families, more and more students have had disrupted schooling as families are needlessly moved from location to location."

The new rule and the inhumane conditions at the Hall Street Complex in Brooklyn are among the many examples of why the city must improve its collaboration and planning with stakeholders to meet the needs of asylum seekers, longtime New Yorkers and communities, Speaker Adams said.

"We must support those seeking shelter and provide an opportunity for new arrivals to contribute to our economy," she added. 

The Comptroller report recommends that while the City continues to implement the 60-day rule, administrators must immediately correct critical shortcomings in the implementation of the policy, including writing clear policies and procedures, amending the 60-day notice to add critical missing information, providing the “intensive case management” as promised, and allowing families with elementary school-aged children to be placed in DHS shelters upon re-intake. 

In addition, the City should track and evaluate program effectiveness, including overall cost savings, and outcomes for families toward immigration status, work authorization, housing stability and self-sufficiency, the report said.