NYC spends ‘at least’ $600 million a year on migrant crisis: Watchdog

The city will spend at least $596 million a year to provide shelter, education, health care and legal assistance to thousands of asylum seekers who have arrived in recent months, its independent budget office said Sunday.

The IBO estimate — requested by Staten Island political leaders — was calculated based on 17,500 refugees currently living in city shelters or under the city’s care in hotels.

And the price could increase dramatically.

“The arrival of an additional 10,000 asylum seekers – assuming the current household composition remains constant – would add approximately $246 million to the cost,” wrote IBO Executive Director George Sweeting.

“The total cost of providing the identified urban services cannot be estimated with certainty as the number of people arriving continues to evolve.”

Mayor Eric Adams speaks at a podium
Adams has reportedly revised his plea to the government for help with the influx of migrants.
William Farington

In September, Adams asked President Biden for $500 million to deal with the migrant crisis, but federal aid is unlikely, Sweeting warned in a memo accompanying the report.

Gov. Kathy Hochul on Friday opened the door to providing state funding to the migrant wave – after months of trying to divert the issue amid her tough campaign with Lee Zeldin to the Biden administration.

The comments came the day after the revelation that Adams will close the migrant tent city on Randall’s Island and relocate its residents to the Watson Hotel in Midtown Manhattan.

big tents in a huge parking lot
The town’s original “tent city” at Orchard Beach was relocated due to flooding concerns.
A bus passes a checkpoint
Migrants come and go from the tent city on Randall’s Island.
Matthew McDermott

The facility on Randall’s Island replaced an earlier one on Orchard Beach in the Bronx that was moved because of flooding concerns — but only after the city had already spent $750,000 on construction.

City officials have declined to disclose how much they spent on the second camp and how much it cost to dismantle the first facility.

Men walk in line with metal fences
Mayor Adams initially estimated the cost of housing thousands of migrants at around $1 billion.
Matthew McDermott

Councilman Joe Borelli — who along with his Staten Island colleagues requested the IBO’s analysis — blasted the massive spending that he said could have been used to shore up losses in city workers’ pensions.

“It’s incredible to imagine that if we didn’t spend $600 million to accommodate Biden’s open border, we would have the $600 million we need to prevent our city retirees from losing their current health plan.” It all comes out of the same bag,” Borelli said.

Adams had estimated the cost of housing migrants at $1 billion – but he admitted on Saturday the price would ultimately be much less.

“As the number of asylum seekers arriving in New York City has fluctuated widely in recent weeks, we are reviewing past analysis to see if there is a more accurate estimate of the total cost for the current fiscal year,” City Hall spokesman Fabian Levy said said in a statement. NYC spends ‘at least’ $600 million a year on migrant crisis: Watchdog


JACLYN DIAZ is a USTimeToday U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. JACLYN DIAZ joined USTimeToday in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing

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