(The Center Square) – The city of New York’s budget projection on how much it will cost to pay for the surge of immigrants coming to the city has varied wildly in just a matter of months.
In one estimate in 2024-25, in just four weeks’ time the city changed its expected cost to take care of asylum seekers by more than six times the original amount. Those projected costs increased because in the four weeks since the original estimate, the total number of asylum seekers coming through the system increased by 12,000. Given that trend, the city upped its cost projections, according to the Office of the New York State Comptroller.
In April, the city of New York released its budget for the expected costs for the arrival of asylum seekers from the southern U.S. border.
The city budgeted $1.4 billion for the just completed 2022-23 fiscal year and then another $2.9 billion in 2023-24. The city then projected that cost to drop to $1.0 billion in 2024-25.
A review of the city’s asylum seekers projected cost in June by the Office of the New York State Comptroller contained an ominous warning.
“Federal, State and local policy choices could impact the number of individuals in care, making these expenses particularly difficult to budget for,” the Officer of the New York State Comptroller warned in June. “While the City now reflects asylum seeker costs in FY 2024 and FY 2025, the out-year costs remain particularly difficult to budget given the dynamic nature of the situation and the many policy and funding levers out of the City’s control.”
The city of New York released updated cost projections in August to care for asylum seekers: $4.7 billion in 2023-24 and $6.1 billion in 2024-25. In a matter of just four months, the projected costs for 2023-24 had increased by more than three times that original April estimate and the 2024-25 projected costs had increased by more than six times.
“We assume the city was reasonable in budgeting its costs assumption this year,” Mary Mueller, press secretary for the New York State Comptroller, said in an email to The Center Square.
Then, on Sept. 9, New York City Mayor Eric Adams said the “asylum seeker humanitarian crisis” was threatening the city’s financial stability.
“Since the large influx of asylum seekers to our city began last spring, we have warned New Yorkers that every city service could be impacted by this crisis if we did not get the support we needed,” Adams said in a news release.
The state of New York has received the lion’s share of funding from one federal program covering the costs of immigrants.
The New York Office of Management and Budget received $106.8 million of the $363.8 million available in 2023 from the new Federal Emergency Management Agency’s Shelter and Services Program.
John Ketcham, the director of state and local policy at the Manhattan Institute, said some of the city’s services might face cuts to free resources for migrants.
“The city’s uniquely generous and expansive right to shelter guarantees an immediate shelter bed to everyone who requests it, individuals and families alike, regardless of immigration status or weather conditions,” Ketcham said in an email to The Center Square.
Ketcham said the projected $12 billion to be spent on the asylum seekers from 20022-23 through 2024-25 would be “roughly the annual cost to run the city’s fire, parks, and sanitation departments combined.”
“The Adams administration estimates that the city is spending an average of $383 per night – nearly $140,000 per year – to provide shelter and other services for each migrant family,” Ketcham said. “Much of that has gone to procure hotel rooms through emergency no-bid contracts that span multiple years. With over 140 hotels already under contract, obtaining additional room capacity will become even more difficult and expensive.”
As of Aug. 1, 2023, the city estimated that it had 95,600 asylum seekers that have come through the system. In September, the city estimated another 10,000 asylum seekers were coming to New York City every month.