New York City Housing Authority apartments that need major repairs are staying vacant for years, costing an estimated $8 million in rent the struggling agency could have used to pay for repairs and improved services for public housing residents, an audit released by City Comptroller Scott Stringer’s office on Wednesday found.
Stringer’s audit found that NYCHA’s estimate of having 2,342 vacant apartments was an “estimate at best,” and some of the vacant apartments are being used by squatters. The public housing agency runs 328 housing developments for 403,000 low and middle-income tenants, according to the comptroller's office.
The audit monitored the city’s on-roll and off-roll apartments between July 2012 and April 2015, finding 80 apartments have been vacant for more than 10 years, and another 161 apartments have been empty between three to 10 years.
“The more than 270,000 New Yorkers who are waiting for housing deserve much better treatment than that. It’s well past time for NYCHA to start getting it right,” Stringer said in a statement. “It’s beyond the realm of explanation how years can pass before apartments become habitable.”
NYCHA said in a statement that the agency has a 1 percent vacancy rate, and that is the lowest rate in 10 years.
“With thousands of families on the waiting list for public housing and residents with critical pending transfer needs, managing and turning over our vacant apartments effectively and efficiently is vital to our operations,” the agency said, adding that they are already addressing many issues raised in the audit.