Mayor Eric Adams on Monday ordered a drastic 20% cut in spending on migrants, aiming to reduce daily costs as well as the number of days asylum seekers spend in municipal shelters.
“The city cannot bear the expenses of caring for asylum seekers at current levels and, at the same time, maintain municipal services and maintain the safety and cleanliness of the city,” Jacques Jiha wrote on Monday , city budget director, in a letter to city agency heads obtained by Gothamiste.
The reductions would apply to both the current fiscal year 2024 budget and the following year. The administration is expected to spend more than $6 billion on migrants over the next two years, according to the latest budget figures.
News of the plan was first reported by the Daily News.
Adams is struggling to cope with the continued influx of migrants. Nearly 66,000 migrants are currently living in the city’s accommodation system, according to the latest figures from City Hall.
As part of a plan to encourage migrants to leave their shelters, the city asked adult migrants to leave their assigned shelter or reapply for a bed after 30 days. Families are subject to a 60-day limit. The city’s housing rights rules require authorities to provide a bed to anyone in need.
Homeless advocates will be closely watching the city’s efforts to significantly reduce migrant spending. Joshua Goldfein, an attorney with the Legal Aid Society, said the city has “a minimum standard” of care it must provide to comply with the law.
Goldfein called the mayor’s plan to cut migrant spending “ridiculous” and highlighted the administration’s delays in providing legal and case management services to migrants.
“There are a lot of ways that cutting the budget ends up costing them more money,” he said.
Jiha’s letter also ordered most city agencies to cut spending by 5% in 2025, a move intended to close an unprecedented $7.1 billion budget gap due to the expiration of federal aid in the event of a pandemic as well as the unexpected toll of the migrant crisis.
Jiha also said the state has signaled it will cut its funding for migrants in the city, something Gov. Kathy Hochul has also alluded to in recent weeks.
Unlike the previous round of budget cuts, the police, fire and sanitation departments were exempted “out of concern that additional budget cuts at this time could impact public safety, health and cleanliness,” wrote Jiha.
Although officials have not called for layoffs, the city has frozen spending on new hires.
The latest round of cuts comes less than a week after Adams unveiled painful savings measures in this year’s budget that would affect a wide range of services, including libraries, schools, policing and composting.
The announcement of several budget cuts first came in September, when Adams warned that the lack of federal aid to address the migrant crisis left him with no choice but to cut spending across the board. domains.
In total, the mayor has asked most agencies to reduce their spending by 15% over the next few years.
Agencies must submit their plans by December 8. Once reviewed and adjusted by budget officials, the cuts will be reflected in the mayor’s preliminary budget which will be released to the public in January.
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