new york city, nyc vacant lots, city owned lots, hpd, housing preservation and development

Many city-owned lots like this in East Harlem sit empty, according to a new report.

City Comptroller's Office

Despite a lack of affordable housing in New York City, more than 1,000 properties owned by the city are currently sitting empty, according to a new report from the comptroller’s office.

 

New York City Comptroller Scott M. Stringer released a report this week which says that the Department of Housing Preservation and Development is “dragging its feet” on building new affordable housing units on available, vacant lots.

 

Most of the 1,000 city-owned properties have been designated for residential developments, but are currently sitting empty — showing, Stringer says, the “glacial pace” of development in the city.

 

Up to 900 of these empty lots have been owned by the city for at least 20 years and in some cases up to 50 years, the report found.

 

“New Yorkers are struggling in an affordability crisis that touches us all. We’re no longer just a tale of two cities – we’re becoming a tale of two blocks, with luxury towers on one corner and struggling families on another,” Stringer said in a statement.

 

This report is a follow up on a 2016 audit from Stringer’s office, which found that there were more than 1,100 vacant HPD-owned lots.

Ninety percent of the vacant lots from that report remain undeveloped, with HPD having transferred only 64 of the 1,125 lots for development. HPD also transferred ownership of 54 of those lots to other city agencies for use, according to the report. 

“Two years ago, as rents were skyrocketing, we counted vacant properties and gave the world a blueprint for what to do with them. HPD promised the public that hundreds of those properties would be developed in two years,” Stringer said. “Now, we’ve come back two years later, and we’ve uncovered that the agency’s promises were as empty as these vacant lots.”

“At a time when we face an affordability crisis, HPD is sitting on precious resources,” he added. “And to make matters worse, we know that it has been willfully avoiding the truth for years.”