Mayor Adams has done everything he can to house tens of thousands of migrants in hotels and tents, only to tank his approval rating.
Voters see what he can’t see: He cannot house the world.
Adams is failing, because he’s doing everything but the obvious: move to end New York City’s spurious “right to shelter.”
The right to shelter, under which the city is housing 59,300 migrants, isn’t a right at all.
This fake right, which has persisted for more than four decades, now imperils New York City’s ability to provide public services, such as fire protection and garbage collection.
No ‘right’The right to shelter is allegedly rooted in the state constitution.
In 1981, after advocates for homeless men asserted this right in a state-court lawsuit, the city, under then-Mayor Ed Koch, signed a “consent decree.”
The city pledged to provide shelter to men suffering “physical, mental or social dysfunction.”
This narrow mandate, which at the time cost about $40 million in inflation-adjusted dollars, has expanded to include everybody, and will cost at least $4 billion this year.
One problem: the term “right to shelter” appears nowhere in the state’s constitution. The constitution does feature a bill of rights, listing items such as religious liberty, and the right to organize a labor union.
“Shelter” is not among these rights.
If voters wanted a right to shelter, it wouldn’t be that difficult to enact.
The constitution’s bill of rights does feature one new addition, a two-year-old provision that “each person shall have a right to clean air and water.”
How did this environmental right get there? State lawmakers followed the procedure to amend the constitution, twice voting to put the question to the public, and the public approved it in the 2021 election.
There is a section in the constitution about the “needy,” and this is what homeless advocates have used in court.