Poll Insights: 79% of New Yorkers Support ‘Right-to-Shelter’ Despite Migrant Strain

New York City is facing an unprecedented challenge as it struggles to accommodate more than 160,000 migrants who have arrived in the city since 2023, fleeing violence and poverty in their home countries. The influx of migrants has put a strain on the city’s resources, especially its shelter system, which is required by law to provide housing to anyone who is homeless and seeking shelter.

This unique legal agreement, known as the ‘right-to-shelter’ mandate, has been in place since 1981 and has helped reduce the number of homeless individuals living on the streets. However, some city officials, including Mayor Eric Adams, have argued that the mandate should not apply to new arrivals, and that using it that way only incentives more migrants to come to New York.

The mayor has proposed to suspend the mandate during a state of emergency, and to limit the stay of single adult migrants in shelters to 30 days, and migrant families to 60 days. The city is currently locked in a court battle with the Legal Aid Society, which is defending the right-to-shelter, about any further changes being made to the mandate.

Poll Results

Despite the ongoing migrant crisis and the financial burden it imposes on the city, a recent poll conducted by HarrisX found that 79% of New Yorkers still back the city’s ‘right-to-shelter’ mandate that guarantees housing to anyone in the Big Apple. The poll, which used responses from around 1,000 adults, found that 29% of people who answered the poll “somewhat support” the right-to-shelter-law, while another half said they “strongly support” the mandate.

The poll also found that 65% of voters approve of the mandate, while 31% disapprove of it. The poll results show that New Yorkers are compassionate and supportive of the idea of providing shelter to those in need, regardless of their immigration status or origin.

Opposing Views

However, not everyone agrees with the majority of New Yorkers. Some critics of the mandate, such as Governor Kathy Hochul, have backed the city’s effort to suspend the mandate when there is a state of emergency where the shelter population of single adults increases at a rapid rate.

The governor said that the mandate was never meant to apply to an international humanitarian crisis, and that it creates an open invitation for anyone in the world to come to New York and demand a hotel room or shelter.

The governor also said that the federal government needs to step up and help the city with the migrant situation, as well as to allow migrants to gain work authorization, so they can support themselves. Other opponents of the mandate, such as some residents and business owners, have complained about the negative impacts of the migrant influx on the quality of life, safety, and sanitation of the city.


The migrant crisis in New York City is a complex and controversial issue that has no easy solution. On one hand, the city has a moral and legal obligation to provide shelter to anyone who is homeless and seeking shelter, regardless of their immigration status or origin. On the other hand, the city has limited resources and capacity to accommodate the large number of migrants who have arrived in the city since 2023, and who may continue to arrive in the future.

The city also has to balance the needs and interests of its existing residents and businesses, who may be affected by the migrant influx. The recent poll shows that most New Yorkers support the ‘right-to-shelter’ mandate, despite the challenges and costs it entails. However, some city and state officials, as well as some residents and business owners, oppose the mandate and want to suspend or modify it. The fate of the mandate, and the migrants who depend on it, may ultimately depend on the outcome of the court case that is currently underway, as well as the actions of the federal government.

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