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Opinion: Many Migrants are Here to Stay. Let’s Make Sure They Have Somewhere to Live

(CITY LIMITS) Abdullah Younus and  Joseph Loonam, December 16, 2022

“Legal status should not be a determinant of the quality of life you can live nor the access you have to shelter. Having a safe, stable place to call home is foundational to well-being and critical for children’s development.”

New York City approaches yet another winter in crisis. Thousands are without a home, opting for shelters, subways, or the streets. Still thousands more are bracing for their coldest winter ever after being inhumanely bussed here from Texas to make a political point. Many of our newest New Yorkers don’t have a winter coat—let alone a place to live.

The recent debate over the now-shuttered tent shelter on Randall’s Island underscores just how severe this housing crisis has become. There are the average 62,000 New Yorkers who rely on the shelter system, and untold thousands more either don’t trust it or can’t find a bed, and the 22,000 newest arrivals—many of whom will stay here after being granted asylum. This is an all-hands-on-deck situation that requires the city, state, and federal governments to provide immediate and long-term relief.

Step one is opening housing access for asylum seekers. Mayor Eric Adams’ recently announced reforms to the City Family Homelessness and Eviction Prevention Supplement (CityFHEPS) housing voucher program was a major step forward to help New Yorkers exit the shelter system and enter permanent housing. It’s the kind of barrier-lifting solution needed to ensure the health and stability of all New Yorkers.

While we applaud the Adams administration’s reforms, we urge the mayor to expand access for all housing voucher programs to people regardless of their immigration status. Legal status should not be a determinant of the quality of life you can live nor the access you have to shelter. Having a safe, stable place to call home is foundational to well-being and critical for children’s development.

We also believe the state must show leadership on this issue by passing and funding the Housing Access Voucher Program, which would offer a market rate rental subsidy for undocumented folks, including those living upstate in municipalities too small to support their own programs.

Source: City Limits