NYC wants developers to remove affordable units from lottery system to house homeless

October 12, 2022

Photo via Wikimedia

New York City wants affordable housing developers to increase the number of homeless households accepted at their buildings as the shelter system capacity hits a record high amid an influx of asylum seekers in the city. As Crain’s reported, Mayor Eric Adams’ administration asked a group of developers to voluntarily remove units from the city’s housing lottery and “offer them up for homeless placements,” as a way to free up space at shelters for migrants. The city says roughly 17,000 asylum seekers have arrived since the spring, with the shelter population reaching more than 61,000 people as of last week.

Last week, Adolfo Carrión Jr., commissioner of the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), sent a letter to affordable housing developers urging them to participate in the voluntary new program, according to Crain’s.

“We are asking you to remove your affordable units from the housing lottery and offer them up for homeless placements,” Carrión wrote. “We ask you to make this new commitment on top of any homeless set-aside requirement, as a voluntary contribution to this humanitarian crisis.”

The department has not announced a timeframe for the proposed changes to the housing lottery system. HPD spokesperson told Crain’s: “We’ve received a positive response from many of our patterns already. This is an emergency and the city, HPD, and our partners are treating it as one.”

Mayor Eric Adams last Friday declared a state of emergency due to the surge in migrants; this week work began on building a “humanitarian emergency response and relief center” on Randall’s Island that will provide temporary shelter for 500 adults.

Adams warned that the city’s shelter system is expected to reach 100,000 if nothing is done to combat the crisis. There are more people living in NYC’s shelter system than at any point since the 1980s, according to Gothamist. The shelter population has rocketed from 45,000 people in April to more than 62,000 currently. However, most experts agree this figure is an undercount.

The City Council is seeking other ways to bolster the city’s shelter system, including the elimination of a rule that requires those in the system to stay in it for 90 days before they are eligible for CityFHEPS, a rental voucher program that places homeless in housing.

The Council also asked Adams to better staff the city’s Department of Social Services, which in June was found to have a 17 percent vacancy rate. The staffing shortage has contributed to the shelter system’s backlog.


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