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NYC has only filled 200 of 2,500 empty apartments for the homeless

The city’s Human Resources Department has filled just 200 of the roughly 2,500 empty apartments for New York’s homeless in the month since The Post first revealed the existence of the funded but unused assistive housing units.

The slow pace seemingly confirms observations by advocates for the Big Apple’s homeless population, who say they’ve seen little sign of change at the HRA — or its parent agency, the Department of Social Services — in the weeks since the research was released, despite Promises from Mayor Eric Adams to address the issue.

“We have heard from Department of Social Services officials that filling the vacant housing units is a priority, but we have yet to see any significant changes to the housing occupation process,” said Jacquelyn Simone, the policy director of the Coalition for the Homeless .

Other activists for the city’s needy agreed.

“I don’t think we saw anything else,” said Kathleen Cash, an attorney with the Urban Justice Center’s Safety Net Project. “Our customers continue to languish on the streets and in emergency shelters.”

NYC Sanitation Department cleans up homeless camps across the city.
NYC Sanitation Department cleans up homeless camps across the city.
Paul Martinka
An NYPD officer speaks with a homeless man who has been living under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway just before his belongings are dumped.
An NYPD officer speaks with a homeless man who was living under the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway just before his belongings are scheduled to be dumped.
JUSTIN LANE/EPA

Officials acknowledged that 2,287 apartments remain unoccupied, meaning only 213 have been occupied.

They wouldn’t provide any further details in response to questions from The Post, or even say whether they’ve increased staff or automated the process that matches applications from needy New Yorkers with appropriate units.

Sources have previously told the Post that the process is still being carried out almost entirely by hand by an HRA department with half a dozen or fewer overstretched employees, creating a bureaucratic knot that allows the apartments to sit vacant.

The number of vacant apartments is almost identical to the approximately 2,400 New Yorkers found were living on the city streets or subway system during the most recent federal census in January 2021.

Sanitation workers in New York throw away items from a homeless camp.
Sanitation workers in New York throw away items from a homeless camp.
JUSTIN LANE/EPA
A homeless social worker stands in front of a person on the phone.
Officials acknowledged that 2,287 homes for the homeless remain unoccupied.
Paul Martinka

In a statement, a spokeswoman for the mayor’s office claimed progress had been made to improve the process and speed up applications by tracking vacancies more effectively, and the HRA was “working to hire additional staff”.

“We are committed to cutting red tape and streamlining the process so people can be accommodated,” said representative Kate Smart.

“But we can’t do this work alone,” she added. “We’re working with our state and federal partners to smooth out unit eligibility requirements and make it easier to place clients where there are vacancies.”

Michael Rodriguez, who has been living under a section of the Brooklyn-Queens Expressway for the past two years, ponders which of his belongings to salvage after sanitation workers and police officers arrive to clean up the area.
Michael Rodriguez, who has lived in a section of the BQE for the past two years, reviews what belongings he can salvage after sanitation workers and police officers arrive to clean up the area.
JUSTIN LANE/EPA
Tents housing the homeless line the streets of New York City.
Tents housing the homeless can be seen under the BQE.
Paul Martinka

Hizzoner has made addressing the twin public safety and mental health crises above and below ground one of his administration’s top efforts, deploying new teams of police officers and social workers to try to encourage homeless New Yorkers to seek shelter and launched an aggressive campaign by Sweeps to clear camp.

However, the carrot-and-stick approach of convincing the homeless to come in seems to have had limited success.

Those who live on the streets or in the subway have usually walked through the Big Apple’s much-maligned protection system and describe the terrible living and security conditions they face in the large barracks-like facilities to which they are often confined were exposed.

https://nypost.com/2022/04/26/nycs-filled-just-200-of-2500-empty-apartments-for-the-homeless/ NYC has only filled 200 of 2,500 empty apartments for the homeless

DUSTIN JONES

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