2,500 city-funded apartments intended to house the homeless population in the Big Apple have been left empty. On Wednesday, Mayor Eric Adams promised to fix the bureaucratic nightmare. City Hall is now under pressure to find a solution to NYC’s homelessness problem and make progress on its high-profile plans to end the crisis.
Two days after The Post revealed the dysfunction at the city’s Human Resources Administration, the remarks were made. Essential portions of the application process are still done by hand and must be coordinated by a tiny office with fewer than a half-dozen workers.
“This is a dysfunctional city, we have to stop the dysfunctionality,” the mayor, who called the paper’s findings “unimaginable,” said in response to questions during an unrelated press conference in Brooklyn.
“How do you have a vacant apartment, when you need people to be in the apartment and you have so much paperwork that they can’t get in the apartment,” he added. “That is not how I’m going to run this city.”
Requests to bolster HRA’s budget to expand the office and clear the massive backlog was rejected by Adams. This has led to 10 percent of the city’s supportive housing units being left empty even as the average stay at a shelter approaches one-and-a-half years.
“We don’t need more staff, people just need to do their darn jobs,” he said, arguing that the process could be sped simply by reducing the paperwork involved. “We have the staff to do it, but we have layers and layers of bureaucracy that must be dismantled.”
New Yorkers in need should have “confidence” that Adams would get HRA sorted out, he said.
“New Yorkers should have confidence because I’m the mayor. And I’m gonna get stuff done,” Adams said when asked why New Yorkers should be reassured that something will be done to fix the problem.
Council Speaker Adrienne Adams (D-Queens) added her voice to the list of lawmakers and housing activists vying for the mayor to take swift action to fix the situation.
“The lack of focus by city agencies to place unhoused New Yorkers, who need additional supportive services, in thousands of empty units is deeply concerning,” Adams (no relation) said in a statement.
“Fixing the bureaucratic inefficiencies from understaffing and broken systems that are responsible that are responsible for this failure must be a public health and safety priority,” she added.
Because of longstanding safety and sanitation woes at city shelters, despite promises of reform, numerous homeless people who live on the streets or subway trains are fearful of going inside.
Failure to offer essential mental health services, like on-site therapy, is an issue at most shelters, including those designed to help bring the chronically homeless off the streets.