The Adams administration will start paying churches and other houses of worship citywide to shelter migrants — as New York City struggles to find room to handle the hundreds arriving daily.
Initially about 50 houses of worship will take part, with room for up to 1,000 migrants.
Each participating house of worship or “faith-based space” can offer beds for up to 19 single men, according to a mayoral news release, and the accommodations will have “a full suite of services, including dining and social areas, shower facilities, meals, storage space, and more.”
The program, including churches, synagogues and mosques, is planned to operate over the next 12 to 24 months. No exact date for its debut was provided.
Since last spring, more than 72,000 migrants have arrived in the city, most having crossed the southern U.S. border and then bused to the city under a program by border-state governors to protest the Biden administration's immigration policies.
Lately, though, migrants have also been coming by plane or just showing up at city intake centers seeking shelter, Deputy Mayor Anne Williams-Isom said last week.
Surrounded at Monday's announcement by Christians in clerical collars, Jews with yarmulkes and Muslims in hijabs, Adams offered a tweak to his mayoralty’s long-running slogan — “GSD,” “getting stuff done.”
“We use the term ‘GSD’ for a reason: God gettin’ stuff done,” Adams said. “And that is what the houses of worship that are here are doing.”
He added: “Just as a Christian, Scripture reminds us, love thy neighbor as thyself, and welcome the stranger among us. New York City has been living up to that.”
Decades ago, New York City signed a judicial agreement mandating a rare-in-the-nation right to shelter for anyone who needs it. Now struggling to meet this obligation, which until last spring had been practically applied only to the native homeless population, the Adams administration has looked to barracks-style tents, cruise ships, hotels and school gymnasiums as places to house the migrants.
The city’s shelter system typically has separate accommodations for men, women and families.
The administration also has sought — mostly unsuccessfully — to place migrants in surrounding counties. The Suffolk legislature is hiring a lawyer to explore how to stop the city if it tries to place migrants, the county executive signed an order to restrict placements, and the Nassau county executive says Nassau "is not a sanctuary county."
Adams’ program, announced Monday at New York City Hall, also funds “daytime hospitality centers” for sites “of any faith tradition” where migrants can go during the day, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., according to flyers seeking participants.
The overnight shelters will be paid $65 per night per migrant, up to $35,500 per month; the daytime centers will be paid up to $54,000 a month, the flyers say.
But there are additional costs the city will bear on top of what’s paid to a house of worship. At the overnight shelters, for instance, the price tag to the city is about $125, when factoring in city-provided services such as security guards, according to Adams spokesman Fabien Levy.
The list of participating churches, synagogues, mosques and other institutions is pending.
Adams also said the city is considering the possibility of paying New Yorkers to house migrants in their private homes.