New York City is finding creative ways to free up space in its overloaded shelter system as it copes with waves of up to 10,000 migrants per week, as well as a homeless and housing crisis.
After getting rebuffed by upstate communities on increasingly urgent requests from NYC for help in housing the influx of asylum-seeking migrants, the city now is assisting its homeless and lowest-income residents to move upstate.
This week, NYC announced an expansion of CityFHEPS housing-assistance vouchers that will for the first time enable the vouchers to be used outside of the five boroughs—in towns where rents are cheaper than metro NYC and more living spaces are available, the NY Post reported.
“We hope our partners across the state will greet these longtime New Yorkers with open arms and good job opportunities,” Mayor Eric Adams said, in a statement.
The mayor made it clear that the expansion of the voucher program is directly tied to the migrant housing emergency.
“These reforms will give longtime New Yorkers the ability to move out of our city’s shelter system to other parts of the state with more affordable housing options, while simultaneously opening up space in our city’s shelter system for the approximately 10,000 migrants who continue to arrive in the city seeking shelter month after month,” Adams said.
NYC officials estimate that the city has a record number of 113K people in its shelter system, including nearly 60,000 asylum seekers.
The city’s voucher program allows those accepted to pay 30% of their income toward their rent while NYC covers the remainder.
The CityFHEPS program has had success in lifting families out of homelessness. According to NYC data, about 15,000 families landed in permanent housing in FY 2023, an 18% increase from the prior year.
Earlier this year, the City Council eased the eligibility requirement for the voucher program, dropping the 90-day requirement for those in the shelter system to become eligible for a voucher. Migrant asylum seekers are not eligible to receive vouchers from NYC.
Earlier this month, Adams ordered every city agency to implement a 5% reduction in city funding spending to offset the cost of the migrant crisis, which NYC now estimates at $12B through 2025.
“The Adams administration is actively working to reduce housing and other costs by transitioning migrants out of the shelter system and humanitarian emergency response and relief centers to more cost-effective shelter, in addition to looking closely at other ways to reduce the costs of caring for the asylum seekers,” NYC said, in a statement posted on NYC.gov.