If the organization Picture the Homeless (PTH) is correct, there is so much vacant land available in New York City that there should be no homeless people living on the street.

PTH, in collaboration with the Hunter College Center for Community Planning and Development (HCCCPD), released a report last week entitled “Banking on Vacancy: Homelessness and Real Estate Speculation.” The study explores New York’s housing stock and shows that there are many communities where homelessness and gentrification are occurring side by side.

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

The study is part of PTH’s six-year campaign to document vacant property in New York City. The campaign resulted in a community survey by almost 300 volunteers last summer, who walked through all five boroughs to identify empty buildings and lots.

“Vacant housing is a drain on this city’s potential,” said Councilwoman Melissa Mark-Viverito during a presentation of the study at Roosevelt House at Hunter College on the Upper East Side. “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,” she continued. “We have to do something now.”

Housing is a human right!” said PTH member Kalaif Swann. “This report demonstrates that the commodification of housing is caused by putting profit over people. We need to take back our land.”

According to the report, there are enough vacant properties in just 20 community districts, a third of the city, to potentially house 199,981 individuals, which would clean out the shelter system.

“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 Councilwoman Annabel Palma, chair of the City Council Committee on General Welfare, at the presentation. “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.”

“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.”

Councilman Jumaane Williams criticized the city for not dealing with the homeless issue in a timely or appropriate manner. “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,” he said.