[Hpn] Home, $weet Home;NY Post;Regional News;7/1/01

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Sun, 01 Jul 2001 16:03:27 -0400


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Sunday, July 1, 2001
New York Post <http://www.nypost.com>
[New York City, New York]
Regional News section
HOME, $WEET HOME
<http://www.nypost.com/news/regionalnews/33771.htm>

By LEONARD GREENE


July 1, 2001 -- EXCLUSIVE

The city is shelling out an average of $3,000 a month each
for 800 apartments that would normally rent for $600 to
$800 to provide temporary housing for homeless families.

Many of the marked-up furnished dwellings are in run-down
complexes, where the rooms are cramped and the buildings
are in disrepair, according to residents, tenant groups and
advocates for the homeless.

The one- and two-bedroom pots of gold are used by the
city as way stations for the homeless in an effort to
avoid court-imposed fines for not sheltering needy families.

Landlords are paid an average of $100 a day for the
short-term transition housing. Its sole purpose is to keep
homeless adults and their children off the street until they
can be placed in shelters for long-term stays while they
await placement in permanent housing.

"That's a great deal for the landlords," said Patrick Markee,
a policy analyst for the Coalition for the Homeless.

The six-month-old program, known as "scattered-site
housing," has outraged homeless advocates and tenant
groups alike.

Homeless advocates are angry because they believe the
taxpayer money used to pay the exorbitant rents - more than
five times the fair market value in some cases - could be
better spent on more permanent housing or additional shelter
space.

Tenant groups, in turn, say the program takes affordable
apartments off the market and forces permanent residents to
live among people who have no commitment to their
buildings.

"The entire program illustrates how problematic the cityís
approach has been," said Steven Banks, a Legal Aid Society
lawyer who represents homeless families.

Even while the city complains in court that thereís no
permanent housing available, itís "paying thousands of dollars
to rent temporary apartments as shelter," he said.

City officials defended the scattered-site program, even
touted it, saying the pricey rents are cheaper than the
$200-a-day fines per family the city faces for failing to
provide shelter for families seeking it.

Robert Mascali, chief of staff for the cityís Department of
Homeless Services, said the Giuliani administration is under
court order to shelter families within 24 hours of their
request for placement.

Those who couldnít fit in the shelters were generally housed
temporarily in $100-a-night, kitchen-equipped hotel rooms, as
required by the court.

But six months ago, Mascali said, there were no more hotel
rooms available and the agency asked landlords to help
accommodate the cityís 6,000 homeless families at the same
$100-a-night rate.

"Theyíre coming into the system faster than we can move
other people out," Mascali said of the homeless.

He added that his agency would like the landlords to make
their 800 scattered-site apartments available as permanent
dwellings, but the city canít force them to accept the federal
subsidies that homeless families often need to pay their rent.

In the meantime, Mascali said, the city is providing financial
incentives to landlords who rent permanently to homeless
families, sometimes doubling the bonus it pays to subsidize a
tenantís share of the rent.

But critics say there is no bigger landlord incentive than the
prospect of $3,000 for a living room, bedroom, bathroom and
kitchen that would normally fetch $800.

"We have to be sure that the cityís not being a cash cow for
slumlords," said Assemblyman Ruben Diaz Jr. (D-Bronx).

Diazís Manor Avenue district office is just a half-block
away from an apartment building where a number of units
are rented at $100 a day to shelter homeless families.

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**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
material is distributed without charge or profit to
those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving
this type of information for non-profit research and
educational purposes only.**

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Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA


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