New York Pays Landlords Above Market Rate To Shelter The Homeless – And Paying Tenants Get Forced Out

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An investigative piece Monday by Cindy Rodriguez, the Urban Policy reporter for National Public Radio affiliate WNYC, brought the public’s attention to the city’s practice of paying private landlords in low-income areas more money to shelter homeless people in near-derelict apartments than the landlords can get on the free market.

Guess what happens? Without the city having to lift a finger, the landlords follow the artificially-inflated new “market” price the government pays, and – through both attrition and outright eviction – lock out paying renters in order to house the homeless. The new homeless tenants effectively become wards of the State.

For the last year, the number of people in New York City’s shelter system has hovered around a record 50,000 overall. Nearly half are children. The numbers of people in shelters have shot up since 2011, when state- and city-funded programs designed to help people move into permanent housing were eliminated.

So the demand for shelter is high – creating the curious phenomenon of the city paying private landlords such high prices for lousy housing that it’s in the landlords’ interest to push out market-rate tenants like Melvina McMillan. The city rate in its deals with these landlords is typically about $3,000 a month. A portion of that goes to pay for security and caseworkers; at 60 Clarkson Avenue, an organization called CAMBA is providing the latter. McMillan, upset by the arrangement, said it was good for everyone – except the people living at the building.

And these are truly lousy buildings to begin with. McMillan’s building has 215 housing code violations, including roach infestation, leaks and mold. Fights in common areas are frequent.

The city pays an average of $3,000 a month to secure a unit. McMillan pays $700 a month.

Since 2011, there’s been a 66 percent increase in the number of apartments the city leases for the homeless. A court order forces the city to offer shelter to all who seek it, and, because the number of homeless people is highly liquid, it falls back on snapping up apartments instead of spending the money all at once to secure a less temporary method of compliance, such as subsidizing the building or expanding shelters.

The obvious absurdity of local government tinkering with the housing market is manifest when one considers that the paying tenants in these apartments – already at or near the very bottom of the economic ladder in New York City – don’t have a lot of options if they’re tossed out of their homes to make way for a city-subsidized homeless replacement. So where does that leave them?

That’s right: homeless.

“If [McMillan] ends up on the street,” writes Rodriguez, “she’d become part of the city’s homeless population – eligible to be placed in an apartment like the one she lives in now, at a cost to taxpayers of $3,000 a month.”

Personal Liberty

Ben Bullard

Reconciling the concept of individual sovereignty with conscientious participation in the modern American political process is a continuing preoccupation for staff writer Ben Bullard. A former community newspaper writer, Bullard has closely observed the manner in which well-meaning small-town politicians and policy makers often accept, unthinkingly, their increasingly marginal role in shaping the quality of their own lives, as well as those of the people whom they serve. He argues that American public policy is plagued by inscrutable and corrupt motives on a national scale, a fundamental problem which individuals, families and communities must strive to solve. This, he argues, can be achieved only as Americans rediscover the principal role each citizen plays in enriching the welfare of our Republic.

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  • Barbara Johnson

    If the one’s who have been faithfully paying their monthly rent are being forced out because of this, they should move out of the city area and take their money with them. It is taxpayer money that pays for these programs, so if you stay then you are proceeding to contribute to it!

    • Chester

      For those who are already living in these places, it is a practical impossibility for them to leave. They are working at or near the bottom of the income ladder, and have NO savings to use for such a move. Most of those people are doing good if they are making fifteen hundred a month, and once you take seven hundred out of that, there isn’t a lot left for the other necessities of life, such as lights, water, power, and food, not to count transportation to and from a job that is most likely halfway across the city.

      • Barbara Johnson

        Well, I guess that they are going to have to join the homeless ranks then, so that they will be able to get another place to live.

        • Chester

          Most likely exactly what is going to happen to a lot of them, then the good Mayor Bloomberg will declare all homeless people are violating some law he just invented so he can toss them in jail. Cheaper than paying rent like he is doing now.

          • Barbara Johnson

            And they will probably be fool enough to re-elect him?

          • dumpster dave

            Mayor Bloomberg isn’t or can’t run for re-election. Weiner is running. Pay attention to the news.

          • Barbara Johnson

            Weiner isn’t a better choice neither.

          • TIME

            Dear Barbra,
            The key is ~ There is “NO CHOICE,” its da Spitzer or da Weenie, ~ what’s your poison?
            Sadly that’s also what’s broken, Americans have never had a choice, we have been given these abominations of humanity that so many ignorant fools salivate over for perceived favors from the crime boss of the moment.
            And the sad fact is, that so many Americans have fallen into the abyss of the fallen one’s lies.
            Peace and Love

          • Barbara Johnson

            I agree. We don’t have choices when it comes to politics. The Establishment picks them for us, and we go to the polls like zombies to vote for those who were picked for us.

          • IsThisAmerica

            sick isn’t it? why vote? The fix is already in. I just know Clinton will win 2016. Then here we go again, down, down, to what happened to the once great United States of America? Obummer killed us.

          • independent thinker

            “Mayor Bloomberg isn’t or can’t run for re-election.”
            Theoretically he cannot run again however there is always the possibility he will get an exemption passed by the city council like he did last time he wanted to run for mayor after his term limit was reached.

          • TIME

            Dear Chester,
            What you are referring to is called Debtor Prisons, and yes that’s what the “New World Order’s” ~ poster child / CULT of personality, The Star of our show, the Fabulous One and Only, **Michael Blomberg’s** Idea of doing the right thing,
            The question is, really?
            Or could this in fact be a just a method of creating the a way to acquire massive amounts of real estate, at less than pennies on the dollar? That can be reinvented into something quite different with a higher yield.
            Just a thought……
            You don’t make $26 Billion with out being in some form of Criminal investments, and that, you can take to the bank brother.
            The Billionaire club is a whole different venue than just being a Hundred Millionaire. And they don’t let just anyone in the club. Just a FACT….
            NO ! YOU can’t SUPER SIZE that ~~ :-)
            This is the answer. “CONTROL” over the sheep.
            Peace and Love

  • Onaje_Asheber

    A throwback to Welfare Hotels! Exploiting the poor at it’s finest level of brotherhood?

  • Libertarian Soldier

    That’s the obamaland I know.

  • jag

    Socialisim at its finest..ty to all that voted the 2 face in….u get what u deserve!

  • CompanionOnTheJourney

    I wonder if the owners of these buildings are politically connected….silly question…I know.

  • John King

    Sounds like NYC is practicing Detroit politics…so lets just watch and wait until they fall into the same basket Detroit did!

    • Vis Fac

      Practicing? They are mimicking those politics ODUMBO is FORCING those politics on America. That’s the CHANGE he ran his platform on. And you thought it would be a different change? I didn’t not enough people didn’t do their due diligence on the man prior to voting they listened to celebrities and lame stream media. We are now paying the price and will for years to come.

      The Only Thing Necessary for the Triumph of Evil
      is that Good Men Do Nothing–Edmund Burke

      A republic is defined as a state in which supreme

      power is held by the people and their elected representatives, and which has an elected or nominated president…Our republic no longer exists…A democracy can best be described as two wolves and a sheep deciding what to have for lunch with a well armed sheep contesting the vote!

      Libertas inaestimabilis res est

      Semper-Fi

  • Quester55

    POOR N.Y.City, They have to Suffer the ravings of a Foolish Mayor, Whom forgets way too Easy, those lessons, He Should Have learned after ” Sandy ” Kicked his Butt last Winter! Maybe the Next one to Strike will Reshape the Whole Atlantic Coastline & New York will become a Faded Memory!