NEW YORK CITY (WABC) – As New York City’s homelessness crisis reaches critical levels, 7 On Your Side Investigates found that thousands of city apartments are sitting empty.
More than 4,800 NYCHA apartments are currently vacant. If you do the math, that’s enough to fill the entire Empire State Building and then some.
Eyewitness News found that there are major delays in the city handing over apartments to new tenants.
“I want my own home, I don’t know what else to do,” Betty Bernhart said.
Rather than being on the waiting list for weeks or months for a NYCHA apartment, the Brooklyn resident has been waiting for years. More than six years.
“It’s really, really frustrating for someone who has a job and is willing to pay whatever they need because I have a good job but nothing, nothing,” Bernhart said.
She is not alone. More than 240,000 people are on the waiting list.
Here is one of the main problems that leads to longer waiting times. When someone moves out of a NYCHA apartment, it takes a long time to get everything ready so new tenants can move in.
Processing time increased from 120 days at the end of 2021 to 412 days in September this year.
“It’s inexcusable,” said City Council member Lincoln Restler, who serves on the Public Housing Committee. “They are not managing our housing authority properly.”
NYCHA told Eyewitness News that many of the buildings are old and require “significant” repairs by multiple tradesmen, and those repairs are best done when the apartment is vacant. Additionally, testing for lead and asbestos can take up to six months.
The city declined an interview request and provided the following statement:
“NYCHA’s goal is to provide residents with housing as quickly as possible while ensuring New Yorkers are housed in safe homes that are protected from certain hazards. This extensive and necessary environmental work, best carried out during housing handovers when the apartments are unoccupied, remains vital to improving the quality of life for social housing residents across the city. We place great value on vacant apartment turnover and will continue to monitor these efforts closely in the future.”
When asked why vacancy periods have tripled, Deputy Mayor Maria Torres-Springer, who oversees housing, said, “Our mission here is to make these improvements and shorten these periods.”
Meanwhile, Councilman Restler is pushing for more money to be spent on long-term repairs.
“There is no excuse for the extreme delays and these delays have real consequences on people’s lives,” Restler said.
It has real consequences for Betty. She lived with friends until she got her own apartment.
“I understand that NYCHA is doing its part and has to do everything, but at least send us a letter and let us know, ‘Listen, we have your documents, you’re still on the waiting list,'” you know, “Let “Let me know I’m alive,” she said.
Thousands of NYCHA apartments sit empty7 On Your Side examines why all of these apartments sat empty while people waited years for them.
NEED AN EXAMINATION OF A STORY? Eyewitness News’ Dan Krauth, Kristin Thorne and the 7 On Your Side Investigates team want to hear from you! Call our confidential tip line 1-877-TIP-NEWS (847-6397) or fill out the form BELOW.
You can also contact us Dan Krauth direct:
Email your questions, problems or story ideas to 7OnYourSideDan@abc.com