NYC homeless shelter rents questioned

Feb. 9, 2013 at 3:36 PM

NEW YORK, Feb. 9 (UPI) -- Lawmakers are questioning New York City's policy of paying landlords generously to provide housing for the city's homeless.

Landlords have in some cases been kicking low-income renters out of cheap apartments and converting them to homeless shelters, for which they receive financial support from the city that often amounts to more than they get from collecting rents, The New York Times reported Saturday.

State Assemblywoman Linda Rosenthal of Manhattan said recently the city needs to make sure there's affordable housing but should not let landlords "make thousands of dollars off these poor unfortunate people."

"Getting rid of the profit motive will reduce some of the bad actors," she said.

The Times said one pensioner reported being offered $25,000 in cash by his landlord to move out so the building could be converted to housing for homeless people. Willy Machan, 68, told the newspaper he refused because he had no place to go, but many of his neighbors gladly accepted the offer and disappeared.

Machan's landlord, Alan Lapes of New Jersey, owns or leases 20 homeless shelters in the city. The small apartments and rooms can fetch as much as $3,000 a month from the city, the Times said.

City officials told the Times the stipend covers not only rent but also security and social services provided to the residents; however critics told the newspaper the properties are often squalid and dangerous.

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