New York City Is Paying $600 Million to Give Migrants Shelter and Schooling

NYC hadn’t previously budgeted for these costs, and Mayor Eric Adams has asked the state and federal government for assistance

An NYC Emergency Management official during a tour of a new migrant holding center on Randall's Island in New York.
By Emma Court
November 14, 2022 | 03:00 PM

Bloomberg — New York City will spend at least $600 million on a year’s worth of shelter and services for the around 24,000 Central and South American migrants who have flooded into the city, according to new estimates released by the city’s Independent Budget Office.

Those figures reflect costs that can be as high as $93,000 annually for a four-person family staying in a shelter and with two kids attending public schools, the IBO said.

The office said the total cost of city services provided to the newly arrived asylum seekers may fluctuate “as the number of people arriving and remaining in the city continues to evolve.”


New York hadn’t previously budgeted for these costs, and Mayor Eric Adams has asked the state and federal government for assistance. Without that help, the city could tap its reserves, though that isn’t exactly ideal with a “shaky economic and fiscal outlook” ahead, the IBO said on Sunday.

The new estimates come as the city reports that the rush of migrants have slowed in recent weeks, following a shift in President Joe Biden’s immigration policies at the US’s southern border. Citing the slowdown, New York said it would shut down a temporary shelter on Randall’s Island this week that City Comptroller Brad Lander estimated cost roughly $150 million to build. New York is relocating migrants from Randall’s Island to a hotel in midtown Manhattan.

The city is paying for shelter stays, public schooling, health services and some immigration legal assistance for migrants. Department of Education data show that around 5,850 kids from families seeking asylum are enrolled in New York City public schools, at an extra cost of about $48 million for the current school year, not all of which will be paid for by the city, the IBO said.

New York is also shouldering an estimated $16 million for emergency response centers like the Randall’s Island tents, as well as translation services and a midtown center offering various other resources, according to the IBO.


The IBO estimates largely align with projections cited by Lander in September. Lander estimated that the city will pay between $500 million and $1 billion on asylum-seekers this year.

Lander’s projection that the Randall’s Island site would cost $150 million might include some expenses that the IBO folded into its estimate of shelter costs, Elizabeth Brown, a spokeswoman for the IBO, said in an email. The IBO doesn’t have the data to break out the price tag of the Randall’s Island facility specifically, and the site closing may also affect the estimates, she said.

The tab could grow if the city provides migrants with more legal assistance, which would help them get work authorization. Case representation could cost $22 million to $27 million, most likely paid for by both the city and private charities, the IBO said.