NYC right to shelter heads to mediation after months of closed-door conferences, Legal Aid says
New York City’s effort in court to suspend its unique right-to-shelter mandate will go to mediation, according to the Legal Aid Society, which opposes the suspension and had pushed for mediation in the case.
Josh Goldfein, a lawyer for Legal Aid, told reporters that Justice Gerald Lebovits of Manhattan Supreme Court had called in a closed-door Thursday court conference for the parties to attempt mediation.
A day earlier, the Legal Aid Society submitted a filing in the case underscoring its preference for mediation and warning that a right-to-shelter suspension could lead to “mass street homelessness” in the city as winter approaches.
In mediation, a mediator facilitates a resolution of a matter but does not determine the outcome. If the mediation fails, the judge would return to his role determining the outcome.
The city and the state, which has supported the city’s push for a suspension, agreed that the parties should continue to discuss the matter, Goldfein said.
“If the city were to go forward with their motion and win,” he added, “they would still have a problem: that people are on the streets of New York.”
The mediation process could allow the parties to puzzle out a solution without diving into a pitched battle over provisions of the state Constitution.
A spokeswoman for Gov. Hochul, Maggie Halley, said in an email that the governor’s office hopes “mediation will produce a timely, appropriate resolution.”
A spokesman for Mayor Adams, Jonah Allon, said in a statement that the city is “simply asking for the city’s obligation’s to be aligned with those of the rest of the state during states of emergency.”
In 1981, the city and state signed a landmark consent decree requiring the city to provide shelter to the homeless, after a Manhattan Supreme Court justice found a right to shelter in the state Constitution.
The city returned to court in May and asked for the right-to-shelter pause, citing the strain of tens of thousands of migrants who have stretched the city’s shelter system to its limits.
The surge of arrivals — many fleeing economic upheaval in Central and South America — has more than doubled the population of the city shelter system. The Adams administration has estimated costs of the crisis could run to $12 billion by summer 2025.
Goldfein said he believes the city can overcome the challenge without resorting to a right-to-shelter suspension, but that it needs more help from Hochul’s administration.
The governor has pledged $1.7 billion in state funding to support the city. But the Adams administration has pushed for more, and has been frustrated by Hochul’s unwillingness to force reluctant upstate communities to accept asylum seekers.
Hochul has said the city’s right-to-shelter rule should not be seen as “an open invitation to 8 billion people who live on this planet.”
Hochul, a Democrat, said at a news conference last week that she had done “more to help the homeless than any governor has done in the history of the state.” The comment was not warmly received by homeless advocates.
The Legal Aid Society and the Coalition for the Homeless, a court-appointed monitor of the right to shelter, have escalated their criticism of the governor this week.
In a statement Wednesday, Dave Giffen, the director of the Coalition for the Homeless, used the phrase “Hochul-villes” to describe the tent cities he predicted would result from a right-to-shelter suspension.
“The governor has simply not stepped up here,” Giffen added in a Wednesday news conference.
Still, Goldfein expressed optimism Thursday that the city, state and Legal Aid could get on the same page.
“I think what we all share is a desire to try to resolve this as best we can to ensure that people get what they need,” he said. “Nobody wants to see people on the streets exposed to the elements at risk of injury or death.”
- Attorneys seek Deshaun Watson NFL investigation documents
- Four Legal Forms to Consider When Your Child Turns 18 | Business Observer
- Kennedy's attorney fees in prayer case could run into the millions
- Amber Heard Legal Team Requests Johnny Deep Trial Verdict Be Overturned Over Alleged Imposter Juror, Lack of Evidence
- Attorneys seeking NFL documents investigating Deshaun Watson