NEW YORK—Mayor Eric Adams said on Thursday that the city’s homeless shelter system has experienced a “surge” in recent months of more than 3,000 asylum seekers looking for refuge in shelters that already house more than 48,000 individuals. 

Adams said he has been working with the federal government since Tuesday to provide comprehensive support and resources to these families. 

“Our goal is to have our teams specify what we need as in emergency cash assistance to be able to provide for these families so that they can have, to normalize and stabilize their environment,” Adams said. 

The Department of Social Services said that the “significant uptake” in asylum seekers has been driven in part by an increasing migrant population seeking services over the past couple of months, arriving from parts of Latin America and other regions. Adams said some of the asylum seekers have been sent to the city from Texas and Arizona. 

The department pushed back against criticism that it took too long this past Sunday night to provide shelter to four families, denying reports that it did not give them  a place to stay for 24 hours. Gary Jenkins, the commissioner for the Department of Social Services, said while the families were not put in shelters by the 4 a.m. mandate “because of the large increase of families coming into our system,” they were given placements before 11 a.m. Monday. 

“We recognize where we failed,” Jenkins said. “We are going to always strive for excellence because our families deserve it when they come to our doors seeking help.”

The Legal Aid Society blasted the commissioner’s response, saying in a news release Thursday that the city lacks a plan to ensure safe shelter placements for asylum seekers and has “failed” to provide details on a viable path forward.

“The Mayor isn’t speaking the whole truth,” The Legal Aid Society said in press release. “We spoke to eight families with children this morning who slept on the floor last night at the City’s shelter intake center in the Bronx, in addition to the four families, the Mayor acknowledged who had slept there Sunday night. This humanitarian crisis shows no sign of abating anytime soon, regardless of how many press conferences the Mayor holds to conceal the reality.”

The mayor added the city will provide shelter to migrant families, regardless of the current “overburden” the homeless shelter system is experiencing.