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New York City Mayor Eric Adams on Monday suggested private homeowners and landlords could help with the influx of migrants in the Big Apple.
Adams, a Democrat, proposed the idea during an announcement for a new faith-based shelter program for migrants that allows up to 50 houses of worship or faith-based spaces to host nearly 1,000 single adult foreign nationals who recently arrived in New York City.
“It is my vision to take the next step to this faith-based locales and then move to a private residence,” Adams said during a press conference, adding city residents who are currently struggling with economic hardship can open up “spare rooms” to migrants.
Adams said city officials would work to “find a way” to bypass municipality rules prohibiting housing homeless individuals in private homes.
New York City will spend $85 a night to house each foreign national, plus additional costs, such as laundry services and security. A spokesperson for Adams said it would cost roughly $125 per night for each migrant after factoring in all costs.
City officials have grappled with over 72,000 migrants arriving in the metropolitan area since last spring, with more than 60% living in 160 taxpayer-funded emergency shelters and hotels, according to the New York Post.
New York City has already spent more than $1.2 billion on the migrant crisis during this fiscal year alone and is projected to spend more than $4.3 billion by the end of June 2024, Adams said. An average of $380 a day per migrant goes towards housing and other services, per city estimates.
With the costs expected to increase by next year, Adams and other officials in the program argue that using the places of worship would be “much more cost-effective” than the current strategy.
“We can take that $4.2 billion — $4.3 [billion] maybe now — that we anticipate we have to spend, and we can put it back in the pockets of everyday, everyday houses of worship instead of putting it in the pockets of corporations.”
“We should be recycling our own dollars,” he added. “We should take this crisis and go to opportunities … but we need to be clear — this is not sustainable with the inflow that we’re receiving.”
Adams said he has been requesting the New York state legislature bring illegal basement apartments up to city code, which the New York Post estimated would cost the city nearly $14 billion for an estimated 50,000 below-ground-level spaces.
“First of all, it’s cheaper, and it’s an investment for us to go to a family and assist them instead of placing people in large congregate settings or all these emergency hotels,” the mayor said.
Adams also called on the federal government to provide support, including expedited work authorization for migrants, a national decompression strategy, increased funding to manage the crisis, and immigration reform.
Spencer Lindquist contributed to this report.