Mayor Eric Adams’ top budget official warned Wednesday that if migrants continue to arrive in the Big Apple at increased rates, the city may need to “update” their multi-billion dollar price tag budgeted for the crisis — a figure the city Comptroller also estimates could be higher.
New York City Office of Management and Budget Director Jacques Jiha said the city’s two-year, $4.3 billion estimate is based on the city housing, feeding and providing other social services to an average of 40 new “households” per day – which includes families with kids and also single adults.
But he noted a spike in arrivals over the last several weeks, showing the Big Apple started accepting approximately 180 new households daily.
“We don’t know if that is going to persist, that it will sustain over time. We don’t know if it’s a blip, if it’s going to go back to the trend line,” he told reporters Wednesday at City Hall.
“But if that persists, it is gonna be a very expensive position to basically cover the costs of caring for the migrants.”
“We haven’t made the decision to change our forecasts yet because we were waiting to see if there is a significant trend that will be established. But once we do, we will have to update our forecast going forward.”
But City Comptroller Brad Lander is projecting the Big Apple will spend even more than previously thought — $4.05 billion by June 2024.
That tops Adams’ current estimate of $2.9 billion by over $1 billion through the same period.
“The ongoing cost of providing shelter to asylum seekers – including whether and when the federal government will step up to reimburse a meaningful share of these costs – is the largest unknown in the budget planning process,” wrote Lander in a statement.
“Based on a variety of scenarios of the flow of new arrivals and daily costs, the Comptroller’s Office estimates providing services could cost an additional $1.15 billion in City funds in FY 2024.”
The Adams administration applied for over $650 million from the Federal Emergency Management Agency to help pay for the crushing costs, but has so far received just $38.5 million.
Gov. Kathy Hochul also allocated $1 billion in the state budget set to be doled out over the next two years, but Jiha said that amount will cover just five months of spending.
Jiha promised the city is “working on” the creation of a new “asylum seeker tracker” so the public can view how much money is being spent on the crisis – akin to the COVID-19 disease tracker that records cases outbreaks across the five boroughs.
Adams, in an earlier appearance Wednesday, stressed the dire consequences of over 73,000 migrant arrivals since last spring, including the 44,700 currently housed in the city’s shelter system.
“When you look at the numbers, you know when you get 4,200 in a week, when you get 900 in a day, you know, we have to continue to shift this number, because this is going beyond our expectation,” he said at an unrelated Manhattan-based press conference.
“We’ve been transparent with the numbers, showing the numbers. Why are people still saying that these numbers are not real is baffling to me.”
He also threatened that more agency budget cuts could be on the horizon before his $106 billion budget proposal is voted on by June 30 — but did not name the specific departments he’s eyeing.
“Every agency is going to be impacted in our city,” he said.
The city filed an application to a judge late Tuesday, requesting permission to amend the Big Apple’s current ‘right to shelter’ regulation governing how the city cares for its homeless population.
The move is spurred by the city’s record homeless population – around 93,000 homeless individuals are housed in city-run shelters and “emergency” sites including hotels. Half of that population constitutes migrant arrivals within the last year.
“Let’s be clear, we are in no way seeking to end the right to shelter,” Deputy Mayor Anne Williams Isom defended the move Wednesday afternoon.
“Given that the city is unable to provide care for an unlimited number of people and is already over extended, it is in the best interest of everyone, including those seeking to come to the United States to be upfront that New York City cannot single handedly provide care to everyone crossing our border,” she added.