NYC Program Has Landlords Evicting Paying Tenants To House Homeless

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In order to help deal with the homeless problem, New York City has been paying landlords in low income communities top dollar to rent out apartments as shelter space. This is creating a situation where landlords are pushing out their former tenants because the city is willing to overpay for the apartments, Newser reported.

Melvina McMillan, a 40-year-old Flatbush woman, is now facing evictions from her $700-a-month apartment.

“We used to have like a lot of tenants," she said. "There’s 83 apartments." There are roughly a dozen of the original tenants left in her six-story building.

“CAMBA [an organization affiliated with the program] is gaining, the landlord, which is Barry Hers, is gaining, but guess what? The families in this building, they not gaining, and the families that’s here paying they rent out they own pockets? We’re not gaining; we’re losing,” McMillan said

According to Patrick Markee, a senior policy analyst at the Coalition for the Homeless, the city is currently leasing 2,500 apartments for shelter, a 66 percent increase since 2011.

“And that really reflects two things," Markee said.  "One, that family homelessness has risen so dramatically since the Bloomberg Administration ended all housing assistance for homeless families. And two, that the city has decided that the way it’s going to manage this problem is just by opening more and more shelter capacity … And that means doing more and more of these deals with landlords.”

Charmaine Burkett and her 5 children were placed at McMillan’s building by the city. She said that she understands why the building’s regular tenants would not be pleased with the arrangement.

“Yeah, it’s kinda messed up,” Burkett said. “You could have a real apartment and pay half  not even half  of what they’re paying here. So it’s really sad. And then the conditions you have to live in, you know  so it’s not good at all.”

If McMillan does end up putting pushed out of the building by her landlord, she could wind up homeless, and then get her apartment back.

Sources: Newser, WNYC