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Mayor Eric Adams says as many as 20 public school gyms may be needed to house asylum seekers

Mayor renews executive order rolling back right-to-shelter requirements
Mayor renews executive order rolling back right-to-shelter requirements 02:58

NEW YORK -- With the city's asylum seeker crisis increasing exponentially, Mayor Eric Adams is renewing an executive order that rolls back some requirements of the city's right-to-shelter law.

It also makes it easier for the city to build new shelters.

It comes as the Big Apple says it has already cared for more than 65,000 asylum seekers and is expecting as many as 15 more busloads over the weekend.

READ MOREParents protest plan to house asylum seekers in gymnasium at P.S. 172 in Sunset Park, Brooklyn

It's controversial and it's upsetting to parents, but Adams says that with more buses expected to roll into New York City, he's now facing the possibility of using as many as 20 public school gyms as temporary shelters for the people seeking asylum.

"This is one of the last places we want to look at. None of us are comfortable with having to take these drastic steps," Adams said Tuesday.

READ MORESome parents refuse to drop off kids at P.S. 188 in Brooklyn while gym is being used to shelter asylum seekers

Having already decided to lodge 75 asylum seekers in a gym at P.S. 188 in Coney Island, the mayor now says he may have no other choice but to keep using public school gyms -- 20 are now on the list -- as the city copes with a humanitarian crisis of epic proportions.

If the 15 or so buses do come this weekend, school gyms may be the only option.

"We are not there yet, but we have to create a list of locations because the flow has not stopped," Adams said.

READ MORENew York City will use public school facilities to house asylum seekers

The list of those critical of the move is long -- parents, elected officials and even school safety officers who say their job does not include guarding asylum seekers. But with his signature bravado, the mayor said New Yorkers are just plain lucky to have him at the helm.

"You know what I would say to New Yorkers? Thank God I'm the mayor right now as we manage these difficult crises," Adams said.

The mayor also renewed an executive order that will allow him to place families with children in congregate settings, barracks-like settings with long rows of cots like in the school gyms. It will also allow him to build new shelters without community input or public hearings.

The Legal Aid Society's Kathryn Kliff said it's not necessary right now to suspend the right-to-shelter law for families.

"It could result in families being at the intake site for many, many hours or even days and we have not seen the numbers of people coming in that the city thought that they would see," Kliff said.

Meanwhile, Gov. Kathy Hochul said she's trying to convince reluctant county executives around the state to find space for the asylum seekers.

"We're going to work with the counties. Some counties are looking very welcoming and so there are conversations about what that looks like," Hochul said.

Both the governor and the mayor have been demanding more help from Washington. Federal sources tell CBS2 there is $400 million in the next round of funding, but in order to qualify New York City needs to do its homework and submit paperwork to show how much it has actually spent so far.

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