Amid the migrant crisis, Mayor Eric Adams is looking to limit the “right to shelter” created 42 years ago in the Callahan v. Carey consent decree — but he should be looking to eliminate it completely.
Without question, the “right” is the central reason New York is spending far more per migrant than any other large city — nearly $40,000 a head here, vs. under $3,000 in Los Angeles and less than $7,000 in Chicago.
Heck, Gotham is spending more than four times more on migrants than the entire city budget of Miami, the No. 2 city for “asylum seeker” arrivals.
It was never based on anything like a sincere reading of the state Constitution, but that hasn’t stopped self-declared advocates for the homeless from steadily adding to the “right” over the decades.
It initially only meant giving overnight shelter to single vagrant men at an inflation-adjusted cost of $40 million in its first year.
It eventually grew to a $2-billion-a-year industry housing all comers — and is likely to cost the city $4 billion this year and ahead, as long as influx of illegal immigrants doubles the shelter population.
Bizarrely, as Nicole Gelinas noted last month, it’s based only on this passage in New York’s fundamental law: “subject to the limitations on indebtedness and taxation, nothing in this constitution . . . shall prevent the legislature from providing for the aid, care and support of the needy.”
That’s right: Nothing except lack of money need stop the state from caring for the needy.
How is that an order for the city (and only New York City) to house anyone who demands it?
Nor is that language even in the section of the Constitution that outlines fundamental rights, such as to form a labor union.
Law aside, it hasn’t worked as a policy: The city has far more people claiming homelessness than almost any other.
People come here for the freebie.
And now that President Joe Biden has opened the borders, a lot more are coming — with more than half the 110,000 “asylum seekers” who’ve arrived locally exploiting the “right to shelter.”
Mind you, eliminating the right wouldn’t force the city to dump anyone out on the street — but merely allow it to use discretion, to balance the desire to help the truly helpless with the need to pick up the garbage, keep the streets safe, educate children and so on.
As it stands, the mayor’s been obliged to order cuts to every municipal agency to manage the added costs of sheltering migrants (when the city budget is looking at multibillion-dollar shortfalls starting next year even without this added strain).
Ending the right would , however, threaten the $2 billion industry that’s grown up to provide shelter — and, potentially, the even larger blob of “social-services nonprofits” that often form the power bases of Democratic bosses.
That surely plays into Adams’ decision to seek only an emergency limit to the right because the city “lacks the resources” to handle the added burden: The entire Democratic establishment would go ballistic if he called out the emperor’s lack of clothes.
The city might drown in liberal tears.
But if Biden keeps on refusing to close the border, something has to give. This bogus “right” is the obvious candidate.
If this crisis finally forces the end of the “right to shelter,” then at least something good will come of it.
Absent a Biden administration pledge to shut down the US-Mexico border, City Hall has little recourse but to abandon its obligations under Callahan — and to take its chances at trial.