Continuing his attacks on the de Blasio administration's homeless policies, Comptroller Scott Stringer suggested the city hasn't harnessed "every resource" available to it in order to combat the crisis.
In a CNBC article about how the city's high rents help exacerbate the homelessness crisis, Stringer—believed by many to be planning a mayoral bid in 2017—was quoted as saying that there are over 1,000 vacant, city-owned lots in our city that have been vacant for decades — we should be building tens of thousands of units of affordable housing." He also said that the city has to "harness every resource we can to competently combat our homeless crisis."
Stringer's comments echo a call advocacy group Picture the Homeless issued in September for the city to use vacant buildings to house homeless individuals. At that time, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development released the following statement in response to the idea:
Properties can be vacant for a myriad of reasons and our thorough analysis and investigation is required to determine which vacant or underused properties can be feasibly put to a better use. We will continue to work toward building a more affordable New York City remain open to examining all opportunities to help us do so.
Stringer's recent comments also come in the same week that he blasted the city's use of private hotels to house the homeless, particularly in some instances when the rooms cost the city over $400 a night. After that report, the Department of Homeless Services' David Neustadt told Gothamist that "against a background of a 115% increase in homelessness over the last 20 years, we are only using hotels as a temporary bridge until we can open enough shelters to keep homeless children and adults off the street."
As of Saturday, the amount of people sleeping in city homeless shelters was 60,447 according to the Department of Homeless Services, which is down slightly from an October report from the Coalition for the Homeless that pegged the number at 62,306 people.