Why allow NYC’s abandoned buildings to stand as useless testaments to halcyon days when they could serve a more practical function in today’s less prosperous age…like housing the homeless, for instance? That’s the latest idea on Picture the Homeless’ front burner. The good folk there are pushing for a census that would help identify abandoned houses, lots and buildings for purposes of constructive utilization.

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer has been pushing for a similar census for several years; if anything, to finally end the practice of “warehousing”–a  self aggrandizing practice whereby developers sit on vacant/ underused properties while awaiting a more profitable time to either build or to sell. While developers sit and wait for increased profits on their clutters of abandonment, a decrease in city housing occurs; hence, all New Yorkers (whether they’re homeless or not) are negatively impacted by inflated real estate prices.

Of course, the inevitable opposition exists to the Picture the Homeless/ Stringer housing plan in the form of Council Speaker Christine Quinn (like Stringer, another mayoral hopeful). Her argument regarding the census: “Collecting that data is enormously expensive [she puts the cost at “millions of dollars,” while Picture the Homeless puts the price at $50,000]…that money may be better spent assisting the homeless.”

“The census has support from nearly half the council, but until Quinn is prepared to bring it to the Housing committee, it is unlikely to get there.” [In short, let’s forget about it.]

The New York Observer

photo: Getty Images


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