NYC facing $12B bill for migrant care

New York City faces a possible $12 billion bill in the years ahead as the migrant crisis continues to stress the city’s finances, Mayor Eric Adams said on Wednesday.

According to updated figures, costs associated with the influx of migrants could cost the city more than $12 billion over the next three fiscal years if policy changes are not enacted and action not taken by the state and federal governments to help manage the emergency.

Mayor Eric Adams releases updated figures on the migrant crisis during a City Hall press conference Wednesday.

Ed Reed/Mayoral Photography Office

The city said it has already spent $1.45 billion so far in fiscal 2023 to provide shelter, food and services to tens of thousands of people who have arrived since the Spring of 2022.

“Since last year, nearly 100,000 asylum seekers have arrived in our city asking for shelter, and we are past our breaking point,” Adams said. “New York City has been left to pick up the pieces of a broken immigration system — one that is projected to cost our city $12 billion over the course of three fiscal years without policy changes and further support from the state and federal governments.”

The Adams administration outlined steps the state can take to support the city, including:

  • Implementing a statewide decompression strategy to ensure each county is doing its part to assist with this humanitarian crisis;
  • Increasing the number of state-run and state-provided sites; and
  • Providing additional funding to help the city with costs already incurred.

The city also asked the federal government to:

  • Expedite work authorizations for asylum seekers;
  • Declare a state of emergency to manage the crisis at the border;
  • Provide more federal reimbursement for costs incurred by the city; and
  • Implement a federal decompression strategy to ensure asylum seekers are more fairly distributed.

New York Republican Chair Ed Cox blasted both state and federal policies.

“New York’s Democratic leaders, including Kathy Hochul and Chuck Schumer, still have yet to meaningfully address our migrant crisis, which continues to spiral out of control,” Cox said. “The willful policy of de facto open borders by the Biden administration has come home to our state.”

He said the city’s policies were outdated and needed to be addressed.

“New York City shelter policies, which never anticipated hundreds of thousands of migrants from around the world, should be reversed,” Cox said. “These policies are attracting migrants and nothing Hochul and Schumer propose addresses that. Their continued inaction is impacting taxpayers and communities across the state.”

Because the asylum seeker population has grown faster than expected and the costs of shelter and care have increased, the city now forecasts spending over $11 billion in fiscal 2024 and 2025 — $4.7 billion in fiscal 2024 and $6.1 billion in fiscal 2025. These figures represents almost triple the city’s previous $3.9 billion estimate for the two fiscal years, which is funded in the city’s financial plan.

Without additional state and federal aid, the city will need to add another $7 billion to the financial plan over this year and next.

“Our compassion may be limitless, but our resources are not,” Adams said. “This is the budgetary reality we are facing if we don’t get the additional support we need.”

The city is one of the biggest issuers of municipal bonds in the nation. Its general obligation bonds are rated Aa1 by Moody’s Investors Service, AA by S&P Global Ratings and Fitch Ratings and AA-plus by Kroll Bond Rating Agency.

In the second quarter of fiscal 2023, the city had about $39.3 billion of GO bonds outstanding. Separately, the city’s Transitional Finance Authority has about $45.1 billion of debt outstanding as of the second quarter of fiscal 2023. while the Municipal Water Finance Authority has around $32.3 billion of outstanding debt.

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