The winds of Hurricane Sandy caused massive damage to the New York area when it made landfall at the end of October. But the gusts of the superstorm blew more than just debris, dislodging New Yorkers from their homes and into a constellation of already full shelters. Yet in spite of the issue of overcrowding both before or after the storm, there may actually be large amounts of space to house people in the city.
Hoping to capitalize on the renewed awareness of homelessness and the dire situation in the city’s shelters, advocacy group Picture the Homelesss and a number of its allies held a rally Friday morning in Harlem to draw new attention to its regular reports on vacant properties in the city. Picture the Homeless has long argued that landlords across the city have left properties vacant while they wait for property values and rents to rise. The practice, known as warehousing, is legal, but it robs the city of precious living space at the same time.
“If you were able to pull out the money for Sandy, you were able to pull out the money before Sandy,” Raul Rodriguez, an organizer with Picture the Homeless, declared, criticizing the city’s failure to capitalize on rundown properties.