Landlords Make Money Housing the Poorest Residents
On February 8, 2013, The New York Times, revealed the story of New York City landlords who are making money operating private homeless shelters. This has advocates and elected officials concerned and come at a time when earlier this month the number of homeless is the highest it’s been in 30 years.
“The city’s Department of Homeless Services pays many times the amount the rooms would usually rent for — spending over $3,000 a month for each threadbare room without a bathroom or kitchen — because of an acute shortage in shelters for homeless men and women.”
The story identifies one landlord, Alan Lapes, who offered financial incentives to longtime residents of a Single Room Occupancy (SRO) building that he owns to move out of the building. He did this so that instead he could rent the apartments to the homeless. He gets half of the money that the city pays for the apartment with the other half paying for security and social services. Lapes operates 20 of the city’s 231 shelters and his shelters are criticized for being violent, unsafe and lacking appropriate social services for residents.
“The fact that these modest living spaces have such high rents opens a window on a peculiarity of the city’s overall homeless policy. That policy, which was put in place in response to court settlements in 1979 and 2008, requires the city, under threat of sizable fines, to find a roof immediately for every homeless person. It has given landlords willing to house the homeless leverage to dictate rental prices and other terms.”
Is this happening in NJ? After Sandy, some landlords raised rents to serve the displaced and not the long-term homeless?