Judge questions NYC shelter guarantee, blocks migrants from former school

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A judge on Staten Island has issued a temporary injunction blocking New York City from using a former school as an emergency shelter for migrants. The decision raises questions about the city’s long-standing obligation to provide shelter to individuals who request it. New York City has been struggling to accommodate the over 110,000 migrants who have entered its shelter system since last year due to a legal obligation known as the “right to shelter.” However, Justice Wayne Ozzi ruled that this right does not exist, ordering the Staten Island school to be emptied.

The ruling came as a result of a lawsuit filed by a homeowner and eight Republican elected officials who represent Staten Island. The city argues that the current crisis necessitates using the school as a migrant shelter. However, in a separate case, the city is seeking relief from the “right to shelter” obligation in front of another judge. Mayor Eric Adams plans to appeal the ruling, stating that it could disrupt efforts to manage the ongoing national humanitarian crisis.

The decision could complicate matters for New York City as it attempts to provide housing for migrants. The city has been contending that it should house migrants in the school, along with more than 200 other structures that have been used for this purpose. However, the judge’s ruling challenges the validity of the “right to shelter” policy entirely. The case has already faced legal battles, with the city initially obtaining a victory when an appeals judge ruled in its favor against a temporary restraining order blocking the shelter’s opening. These legal developments reflect the growing opposition to migrant shelters in the city, with weeks of protests and vocal opposition from some Staten Island residents.

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