New York City is in the middle of an affordable housing crisis. Rent rose 11 percent between 2005 and 2012 and continues to climb. Tens of thousands of people routinely apply for reduced-rent buildings that only have a few hundred units. And Mayor de Blasio’s aggressive plan to create 200,000 extra units of affordable housing may not be enough.

Given this climate, it’s mind-boggling and inexcusable that the New York Housing Authority has left hundreds of apartments off the market for years, as was discovered by a recent city audit. NY1 reports:

A city audit found 312 NYCHA apartments taken off the rent rolls for major repairs stayed empty for an average of seven years. Eighty apartments were empty for at least a decade, including one at the Harlem River Houses vacant since 1994.

Many of the units are occupied by squatters.

And, making things worse, NYCHA, the city agency that also has a terrible record for renting out its retail spaces, seems to think that that everything is A-OK!:

“[NYCHA] has a record low vacancy rate of only 1 percent—the lowest it’s been in nearly 10 years,” and that “managing and turning over our vacant apartments effectively and efficiently is vital to our operations.”

What the hell is going on, NYCHA?

The agency has been financially struggling for some time now, and housing residents say that the agency isn’t able to keep up with the current demand of upkeep — let alone renovating the dilapidated apartments. “They have a lot of apartments that people are living in there and the walls got holes in it, bathroom holes in the wall,” said Harlem River Housing tenant association president Michelle Grant.

NYCHA needs to get its act together, because according to City Comptroller Scott Stringer, it’s losing money every day those apartments stay empty. Through the time period that we studied, we estimate that NYCHA lost $8 million in rent,” says Stringer.

(Photo: Edward Blake)