Migrant families and their children began packing up and leaving their homeless shelter at the Row Hotel in Midtown Manhattan on Tuesday morning, saying goodbye to the place they’ve called home since arriving in the city more than a year ago.
Dozens of parents were lined up outside the Row, one of the city’s emergency shelters for migrant families, around 6:30 a.m., waiting for school buses to take their children to school. Bundled up kids purchased chips and juice at a nearby newsstand, as a police van was parked nearby. One family carrying bags and suitcases was seen jumping into an Uber.
Most families said they had received official 60-day notices to vacate the shelter by dates in January. Yajaira Abreu, who arrived from the Dominican Republic with her daughter last March, said she was moving to Boston to crash with a friend and that she had until Thursday to leave the hotel.
“My daughter tells me she doesn’t want to leave her friends,” Abreu said in Spanish.
Roughly 40 families are among the first wave of migrant families forced to leave the city’s care after Mayor Eric Adams began limiting shelter stays to 60 days last fall, citing the ballooning migrant population with more newcomers arriving each week. Families who haven’t found alternative housing will have to go to the Roosevelt Hotel in Midtown, the city’s main intake center, to reapply for a shelter placement.
“We lived up to what is expected of New Yorkers: Being humane and stabilizing children and families,” Adams said at a press briefing Monday. “If we could just close the front door, we could get through this but we can’t close the front door.”
So far, the city has notified some 4,800 families in the city’s emergency shelter system that they had 60 days to move out of their shelters.
The policy is prompting concerns by some elected officials and immigration and housing advocates that migrant children will be upended from their schools and forced to move every two months, exacerbating a longstanding issue among children living in shelters whose education suffers from chronic relocation and attendance gaps. Education groups have warned the displacements will uproot the youngest migrants, potentially ripping them away from schools where they’ve found stability.
“Sixty days will also increase the amount of trauma our New York City kids will face, it’s not right,” Councilmember Rita Joseph said Monday at a rally against the policy. “Our youngest New Yorkers, those who are here to seek a better life with their families, should not be a political pawn in this administration.”
Opponents of the mayor’s shelter limits argue its purpose is to make conditions unbearable, compelling migrants to leave the shelter system or the city altogether.
“The 60-day rule is one thing and one thing only: harassment,” said Christine Quinn, CEO of WIN, which provides shelter for women and families, during the rally. “This rule is being put in place because the administration has failed to develop or implement a holistic plan to house and support the asylum seekers. There is no leadership coming out of City Hall.”
More than 66,000 migrants are currently living in city shelters — most of them families with children — according to Adams’ office. The cost of caring for the migrants is about $396 a night, city data shows.
Non-migrant homeless families are subject to shelter transfers by the Department of Homeless Services and are often forced to change schools because their new commutes are too long. That’s despite federal rules that say homeless children have a right to remain at their school even if they relocate to another shelter.
Ted Long, senior vice president at the city’s public hospital system that operates more than a dozen migrant shelters and the Roosevelt Hotel intake center, said Monday that staff have met more than four times with each family moving out of the shelters. He added that staff would prioritize placing families with elementary-age children in hotels near the schools where they already attend and that those rooms have already been set aside.
Families will be able to send their children to school Tuesday while they reapply for shelter, Long said.
City Hall officials say about 60% of the migrants who have been in the city’s care since 2022 have left the shelter system. Last year, the city implemented a 30-day shelter limit for migrant adults, which partly resulted in migrants waiting hours and days outside a reticketing center in the East Village, hoping for a new shelter bed — sometimes in freezing temperatures.
“These children and families have been through so much, so we’re not talking about destabilizing them,” Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom said at a recent City Hall press briefing. “And I just want to flip that premise. What we are trying to do is actually stabilize them and make sure that they have what they need and make sure that those families just coming to us at the front door also have an opportunity.”