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New York City homeless advocates agree to modified right-to-shelter law amid migrant crisis

Advocates reach agreement to modify NYC right-to-shelter law
Advocates reach agreement to modify NYC right-to-shelter law 02:19

NEW YORK -- A judge and advocate groups have agreed to modify New York City's right-to-shelter law, allowing the city to limit the amount of time some asylum seekers can stay in shelters.

The modifications are temporary and the underlying law remains in effect, so both sides are claiming victory.

"Today is indeed a historic day," Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom said.

After months of negotiations, the city's agreement with the Legal Aid Society and Coalition for the Homeless allows some flexibility in housing asylum seekers.

There are already 180,000 asylum seekers in the city and more are expected as part of an anticipated spring and summer surge.

The migrant agreement applies only to adults seeking shelter and limits the amount of time they can stay in shelter to 30 days.

They cannot reapply unless there are extenuating circumstances, like if they are making a good-faith effort to find a place to stay outside the shelter system or receive a "reasonable accommodation" for being pregnant or having a disability.

The agreement allows adults under 23 to stay for 60 days and allows the city to continue a reticketing program to help more people move out of shelter.

It does not apply to families with children, which city figures say make up 78% of the 64,500 people in city shelters as of Thursday.

NYC homeless advocates agree to modified right-to-shelter law amid migrant crisis 02:36

Williams-Isom stressed that the city will work with people who need special accommodations and need to stay in shelters longer.

"This is an emergency. These are extraordinary circumstances," the deputy mayor said.

Legal Aid attorneys and officials for the Coalition for the Homeless stressed the "flexibility" applies to asylum seekers and during the humanitarian crisis from the Southern border. It does not undo the right-to-shelter law.

"The right to shelter saves lives and the importance of this agreement today is it continues what has been the safety net protection for people in this city," said Steven Banks, co-counsel to Legal Aid.

The Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless vowed to monitor the city's compliance with the law and said they will go back to court if there are any violations. 

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