Photo via Wiki Commons
For many New Yorkers, public housing is the only affordable way to live in the city, but despite an ever-growing waiting list, thousands of these homes are sitting empty, according to a report in the Wall Street Journal about an audit of NYCHA by Comptroller Scott Stringer. At a release of the findings yesterday at the Raymond V. Ingersoll Houses in Brooklyn, Stringer said: “Even though 270,000 New Yorkers are on the waiting list for housing, desperate to put a roof above their heads, we found that NYCHA is sitting on over 2,000 apartments they identify as vacant.” The audit shows that 1,366 apartments are empty awaiting repairs, and 967 are between tenants.
NYCHA is the largest landlord in the city, providing affordable housing to more than 400,000 people in 328 housing developments. An agency spokeswoman said the vacancy is one percent, the lowest in ten years. However, Stringer’s audit claims that “82 housing authority apartments have been vacant for at least three years, 79 for seven to 10 years, and 80 apartments have been empty for more than 10 years. One apartment has been vacant since 1994,” according to the Journal. The findings also note that a unit requiring repairs stays vacant for an average of 2,605 days, more than seven years. For the study period of July 2012 through April 2015, this resulted in an $8 million loss in rent for NYCHA.
The audit also looked at poor record keeping. For example, out of 99 “vacant” apartments visited as part of the study, 47 were in use. Some were inhabited by squatters, some were being use for as space for city or private agencies, and 21 had actually been combined with other units. NYCHA claims that the audit’s findings are exaggerated and don’t take into account recent improvements.
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