I read a lot of news every day. It’s become my life and my passion. Rarely do I come across a story of greed and corruption so absurd that I can’t believe my own eyes as they scroll the page. This is one of those stories.
This takes the concept of slumlord to an entirely new level. As New York City struggles to find shelter for its increasingly large homeless population, some landlords are paying off their rent-stabilized tenants in order to overcharge the city on rentals for the homeless. In some cases, the rent ends up being as high as $3,000 a month for a tiny room without a kitchen or a bathroom. Yep, you read that correctly. So next time you wonder why you are paying so much money for your little box in the sky, you can thank America’s growing slumlord industry. Prepare your jaw to remain open for the next couple of minutes.
From the New York Times:
The city’s Department of Homeless Services pays many times the amount the rooms would usually rent for — spending over $3,000 a month for each threadbare room without a bathroom or kitchen — because of an acute shortage in shelters for homeless men and women.
Indeed, the amount the city pays — roughly half that amount goes to the landlord, while the other half pays for security and social services for homeless tenants — has encouraged Mr. Lapes to switch business models and become a major private operator of homeless shelters. He is by most measures the city’s largest and owns or leases about 20 of the 231 shelters citywide. Most of the other shelters and residences are run by the city or by nonprofit agencies, but his operation is profit-making, prompting criticism from advocates for the homeless and elected officials.
The fact that these modest living spaces have such high rents opens a window on a peculiarity of the city’s overall homeless policy. That policy, which was put in place in response to court settlements in 1979 and 2008, requires the city, under threat of sizable fines, to find a roof immediately for every homeless person. It has given landlords willing to house the homeless leverage to dictate rental prices and other terms.
With the number of homeless people rising to 30-year record levels — over 47,216 people as of early this month, 20,000 of them children — the city has struggled to find landlords willing to accommodate a population that includes people with mental health and substance abuse problems.
Wait a minute. The number of homeless is at a 30 year high? How could this be in the booming economic recovery we’ve got going?
Joyce Colon, a resident there who entered the homeless system in December, said she was shocked by the violence and prostitution in the building.
“For $3,000 I could have gotten an apartment, a down payment and a security deposit and some furniture,” Ms. Colon, 49, said. “The landlord is getting $3,000 and I’m getting nothing.”
Patrick Markee, a senior policy analyst for the Coalition for the Homeless, blamed the Bloomberg administration for the continuing use of private landlords to house the homeless, citing a policy not to give the homeless priority for public housing projects and Section 8 vouchers because of long waiting lists.
Of course Bloomberg has his little paws in this somehow. Perhaps he should’ve thought about this instead of spending his time banning large sodas.
“The crisis that’s causing the city to open so many new shelters is mostly of the mayor’s own making,” he said. “Instead of moving families out of shelters and into permanent housing, as previous mayors did, the city is now paying millions to landlords with a checkered past of harassing low-income tenants and failing to address hazardous conditions.”
Welcome to the recovery.
Full article here.
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