New Report! “Banking on Vacancy: Homelessness and Real Estate Speculation”

Picture the Homeless and Hunter College Release Unprecedented Report
That Reveals the Extent of Vacant Property in NYC

January 26th, 2012

Contact: Adrian Antonio Paling or
Kendall Jackman, Housing Campaign Leader
Office: (646) 314-6423, Cell: (917) 744-5325

New York, NY.— Picture the Homeless (PTH) and Hunter College’s Center for Community Planning and Development (HCCCPD) today released the report “ Banking on Vacancy: Homelessness and Real Estate Speculation,” which exposes the potential housing stock that is available in New York City in the very communities hardest hit by gentrification and homelessness. The report was presented today at the Roosevelt House at Hunter College, 47-49 East 65th Street, New York N.Y. at 2pm.

The study is the latest development in Picture the Homeless’s six-year campaign to document the extent of vacant property in NYC and the culmination of an ambitious community survey involving 295 volunteers who walked throughout the five boroughs to identify empty buildings and lots in the summer of 2011.

The report identifies that there are enough vacant properties in just 20 community districts, a third of the city, to potentially house 199,981 individuals essentially clearing out the shelter system!

“We were right!” noted PTH Housing Campaign Leader Kendall Jackman. “We have been saying this for years! There are enough empty buildings and lots in New York City to shut down the Department of Homeless Services. We proved our point!”

“Vacant housing is a drain on this city’s potential,” said Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito. “We have people sleeping in the streets, in shelters, and crowding in with loved ones just to have a roof over their heads. It doesn’t have to be this way. This important study from Picture the Homeless demonstrates that New York City can house every family if developers and the city work together to rehabilitate these vacant buildings and lots. We have to do something, now.”

PTH Member Kalaif Swann stated, “Housing is a human right! This report demonstrates that the commodification of housing has caused profit to be put over people! We need to take back our land!”

“The results of this study confirm what many of us already knew, that thousands of vacant buildings across the City go unused each night, while at the same time, the City struggles to cope with increases in the homeless population,” said Council Member Annabel Palma, Chair of the Council’s Committee on General Welfare who spoke at the beginning of the event. “As a City, we need to prioritize developing affordable housing to meet the high need of low- and moderate-income New Yorkers who seek nothing more than safe and affordable permanent housing.”

Council Member Jumaane D. Williams said “It is not morally or economically sound to have so many vacant buildings and lots in this city, especially when so many New Yorkers are struggling to find a home.”

Tom Angotti Director of the Hunter College Center for Community Planning and Development stated, “This project is a good example of the kind of community-university collaborations that public universities need to sustain. The first step in solving housing problems is knowing where the potential resources are. This report points us towards a huge inventory of potential housing units for people who need them.”

PTH Member Owen Rogers states, “Developer’s, builders, and speculators see vacant spaces as future wealth. That future wealth does us no good now, when people are hungry and starving and homeless.”

The report will be available online this afternoon at:


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