Today, Picture the Homeless and Hunter College’s Center for Community Planning and Development (HCCCPD), has announced the first-ever count of vacant buildings and lots throughout the five boroughs. The survey, to be launched in February 2011, is the first of its kind and is unprecedented in scope.
“This partnership with Hunter College will enhance the accountability of vacant properties, which will consequently open the doors to housing for the homeless and others,” said Genghis Khalid Muhammad, Picture the Homeless member. Tom Angotti, Ph.D., the Director of HCCCPD, reiterates the significance of this historic survey: “Our partnership with PTH will help combine grassroots intelligence and university- based knowledge to create the conditions for improving and changing city housing policy so that it can serve those in greatest need.”
The survey is the latest development in Picture the Homeless’s multi-year campaign to document the extent of vacant property in NYC. PTH argues that vacancy inflates the cost of housing in the city and is a root cause of homelessness. Preliminary findings, available on Vacant NYC (www.vacantnyc.crowdmap.com), maps over 11,000 vacant buildings and lots, city wide: most of which were provided by city agency data.
“Why should I, as a homeless person, continuously walk past vacant buildings when I should be allowed to occupy them?” asked Darlene Bryant, member of Picture the Homeless’s housing campaign. Intro 48, a bill that would mandate the City of conduct an annual vacant property survey, has been stalled in the Housing and Buildings Committee since February 2010, although it is co-sponsored by over half of the City Council. In her opposition to Intro 48, Christine Quinn argued that the proposed survey would cost “millions of dollars” (NYDailyNewsSept. 30, 2010). The projected budget for the joint PTH-HCCCPD’s survey is $14,000.