ALBANY — Mayor Adams visited Albany on Tuesday to urge New York state lawmakers who hold sway over city resources to increase aid for the migrant crisis, asking for the state to cover 50% of the city’s migrant costs.
The trip, an annual affair known as “Tin Cup Day” when city mayors make their demands of the powerful state Legislature, is Adams’ third as mayor and comes as the city struggles to shelter an estimated 66,200 asylum seekers in some 216 shelters.
“We are not out of the woods,” Adams, a former state senator, testified at a joint hearing of the state Senate and Assembly in the Legislative Office Building.
The city has projected it will spend at least $10.6 billion to support the migrants by summer 2025, and the state has already pledged about $2 billion in the current budget cycle. Adams expressed appreciation for those investments, but added that the city needs more than the state pledge so far, which he said covers about one-third of the city’s migrant costs.
Gov. Hochul, a Buffalo Democrat and close political ally of the Democratic mayor, has proposed that the state invest $2.4 billion to assist with the migrant crisis in the next budget cycle, but the state’s finances have not been fully hammered out with the left-leaning Legislature.
The investment Adams requested would appear likely to represent an increase in city investments from the ledger that Hochul has proposed, based on city projections. The mayor’s office said Hochul’s budget proposal was $600 million short of what the city needs in its next budget cycle.
The city’s shelter population has almost tripled since Adams took office, Adams testified.
The mayor, who has by turns warned the migrant crisis could “destroy New York City” and emphasized the city’s historic role as a global place of refuge, said Tuesday that he was mindful of the city’s “reputation as a city of migrants.”
But he added that the city has found itself in an unsustainable position. Since spring 2022, the city has welcomed more than 170,000 migrants, according to government tallies, a figure that surpasses the number of residents that live in the city of Syracuse.
Many of the asylum seekers have streamed into the five boroughs after fleeing political and economic upheaval in Central and South America, apparently aware that shelter awaits them in New York under the city’s unique right-to-shelter rule.
The city has sought to reduce costs related to the migrant crisis by instituting limits on how long asylum seekers can stay in city shelters before they have to reapply to spend more time in the shelter system. The city has also instituted painful budget cuts that have affected New Yorkers’ access to services including libraries.
Adams has also relentlessly criticized the federal government for not offering more support with what he has characterized as a national issue foisted upon the city. He has not spared President Biden, a Democrat, from his critiques, driving a wedge in their relationship going into a presidential election year.
Last year, Adams asserted that Biden had “failed the city.” On Tuesday, Adams said the city cannot assume the federal government will increase its limited financial assistance to the city.
“While we appreciate the commitment the governor made last year to cover one-third of the city’s asylum seeker costs, this was based on the premise that the city, the state and the federal government would split the cost three ways,” Adams said.
“The federal government has only committed $156 million,” he added. “The vast majority we have yet to receive.”