Credit: Contributed

Community residents, elected officials, homeless people, housing advocates and other stakeholders led a walking tour of East Harlem this week to highlight privately owned and publicly owned vacant buildings and lots that could be developed as permanently affordable housing.

Advocates and politicians in attendance are fighting for passage of the Housing Not Warehousing Act (Intros 1034, 1036, 1039), a bill currently before the City Council that would empower the city to finally quantify vacant buildings and lots throughout the five boroughs and to identify solutions.

“At a time when we are experiencing a crisis in homelessness, we must use every tool at our disposal to provide more affordable housing,” said Public Advocate Letitia James. “New York City has thousands of vacant lots and buildings, resources that could be converted into affordable housing units to provide permanent homes for those who need it most.”

Picture the Homeless did a block-by-block count in 2012 that proved more than 199,981 people could be housed on vacant property in the city. New York City is No. 1 in the country in homelessness.