October 23, 2023
On Monday, October 23rd, 2023, Policy and Advocacy Associate Juan Diaz provided testimony to the New York City Council General Welfare and Finance Committees on the City’s Asylum-Seeker Response Efforts, Costs and Projections. On behalf of CCC, Juan’s testimony provided cost-savings recommendations to improve supportive services to migrant families in need of emergency assistance, to improve public benefits applications approvals, and open up shelter space for all individuals and families seeking emergency shelter assistance.
Testimony of Juan Diaz Policy and Advocacy Associates
Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York
Submitted to the New York City Council Oversight Hearing on Asylum Seeker Response Efforts – Costs and Projections, October 23rd, 2023
Since 1944, Citizens’ Committee for Children of New York has served as an independent, multiuse child advocacy organization. CCC does not accept or receive public resources, provide direct services, or represent a sector or workforce; our priority is improving outcomes for children and families through civic engagement, research, and advocacy. We document the facts, engage, and mobilize New Yorkers, and advocate for solutions to ensure that every New York child is healthy, housed, educated, and safe.
We would like to thank Chair Ayala, Chair Brannan and all the members of the City Council Committees on General Welfare and Finance for holding today’s oversight hearing on the City Administration Asylum Seeker Response Efforts, Costs and Projections.
CCC is steering committee member of the Family Homeless Coalition. The Family Homelessness Coalition (FHC) is comprised of formerly homeless mothers and 20 organizations representing service and housing providers and children’s advocacy organizations united to end family homelessness.
We acknowledge the City Council’s efforts to address the unprecedented migration of asylum- seeking families and individuals looking for opportunities to thrive and contribute to this city and nation. However, CCC and advocates across the city are strongly opposed to several City Administration actions and proposals that would have a negative impact on migrant children’s overall well-being.i
The cost of Humanitarian Emergency Response and Relief Centers, or HERRCs, which are run by NYC Health + Hospitals (H+H) is excessive, and these relief centers do not provide the services that a DHS shelter can provide such as intensive case management. Through September 30, 2023, NYC H+H expenditures made up the largest portion of asylum seeker spending, at $443.0 million, or 43.9 percent of total asylum seeker spending.ii The City Administration should consider more cost-savings solutions such as opening DHS shelter space by speeding up housing applications and filing vacant positions at housing services agencies.
We are also deeply concerned about city and state proposals to erode the government’s responsibility to provide shelter and safety to those in emergency shelters, and strongly oppose any attempts to suspend the right to shelter.
As the right to shelter revision enters a negotiation process, we urge all parties involved to prioritize cost- saving solutions such as filling vacant positions to help expedite housing and public benefit applications; expediting move outs to set-aside affordable housing units; and streamlining applications for housing and public benefits.
To safeguard the housing and economic security of NYC’s most vulnerable we urge the City
Administration to reconsider The Mayor’s proposed 15% budget cuts to agencies like the Department of Social Services ($1.4 billion) and Department of Homeless Services ($800 million), which will exacerbate an already problematic situation of individuals and families not receiving benefits, such as SNAP, cash assistance and housing vouchers, on time.
Finally, families and students in housing instability regardless of immigration status need the support to thrive while their families are placed in stable housing.
CCC therefore urges the City Administration to:
$16 million was allocated and advocates including elected officials, have called for permanent funding.
Thank you for your time and consideration on this critical issue for children’s health and well-being. We look forward to continuing to work with the City Council and Administration to make sure that all New York City families and children have access to the support they need to recover from the pandemic and thrive.