5.9k Share this
Powerful city lawmakers demanded that Mayor Eric Adams take quick action to fill the roughly 2,500 empty city apartments for homeless New Yorkers, after The Post revealed how a bureaucratic ‘nightmare’ left them unoccupied.
The figure was made all the more striking because it is nearly identical to the 2,463 New Yorkers tallied living on city streets and in the subway system by the federal government’s most recent tally.
“We are in the middle of a crisis when it comes to housing and homelessness and time and time again we find there are these bureaucratic hurdles,” said Council Majority Leader Keith Powers, who called the fiasco “ridiculous.”
“This is 2022, we have to have a way to match people to apartments and quickly,” he added. “We have to expedite these placements while we come up with the resources to fund a longer-term solution.”
The story is the third published by The Post in recent weeks that has revealed significant shortcomings in New York’s sprawling social safety, which are hampering Mayor Eric Adams’ highly publicized effort to tackle homelessness and mental illness on city streets. The others revealed:
“We can’t let bureaucratic disfunction or funding cuts from the prior administration to stand in the way of getting New Yorkers off the street,” said Councilman Justin Brannan (D-Brooklyn), who chairs the budget committee and says he backs City Hall’s recent efforts to tackle homelessness and mental illness in the subways.
“If this was something that was ignored by the previous administration, then we need to attack it and we need to fix it,” Brannan added.
Adams has rolled out two high profile efforts to improve safety on city trains following a spate of deadly attacks in city subways.
The first, rolled out in January, aimed to deter potential crime by flooding the subway system with additional patrols from beat cops.
The second, introduced in February, aimed to use a carrot-and-stick approach to encourage homeless New Yorkers to enter shelter by coupling an increase in enforcement of MTA regulations — including prohibitions on sleeping and smoking on trains — with boosted social service outreach underground.
“It’s infinitely problematic that these apartments are sitting empty,” said Catherine Trapani, the executive director of Homeless Services United.
She called on HRA to do a better job of tracking the apartments available and invest in computer systems that allow them to track the units and their occupancy.
“They need to throw everything they’ve got at filling the vacancies,” she added. “We have to be good stewards of these resources.”