NEARLY 2,600APARTMENTS FOR MENTALLY ILL AND HOMELESS PEOPLE SIT VACANT
New York City has dozens of supportive housing units for people struggling with homelessness, yet those who are eligible have been unable to acquire a unit. This is not due to lack of housing, as around 2,600 supportive housing apartments lie vacant. This number has increased by over a thousand since July of this year. Mayor Adams says he is committed to filling more of these units and in early November announced the opening of two more projects.
Although the number of qualified applicants far exceeds the number of available units, the reason for many of these vacancies is the strenuous application process. Extensive and demanding, it is difficult for many applicants to get the documentation that is required for this housing. In addition, there are mental health screenings and interviews that prolong the process; many applications get lost in the system; and applicants experience long wait lists for exorbitantly long periods of time. Many applicants are turned away because the system is unable to provide them with enough support. For instance, one applicant's application expired after not hearing back for months, which meant she had to restart the process.
Consequently, a large number of applicants that went through this process still did not receive housing. Only 16% of 7,400 applicants were provided apartments, and even less moved into their new housing, and “over a quarter of applicants who had been homeless for over a year were not even referred for a housing interview.”
Back in March, Mayor Adams declared war on “bureaucratic dysfunctionality” stating that “that is not how I’m going to run this city.” The two new projects announced by Mayor Adams will contain 305 apartments in a former hotel and another 200 apartments, in the city-run Queens Hospital Center – 75 of them reserved for formerly homeless people with histories of heavy use of emergency rooms.