Theses Master's

Repurposing Abandoned Residential Infrastructure in New York City to Curb Homelessness

Ramanathan, Ramya

The housing crisis that New York City is facing today needs the attention of all stakeholders in society. Lack of affordable housing is affecting everyone. It has a far reaching impact on every tier of our community, not just the economically distressed. This thesis is a small yet, hopefully, significant effort in understanding how the city can use its stock of underutilized abandoned residential infrastructure to house the homeless better. In places like New York, where real estate prices are skyrocketing and available land is scarce, vacant properties become a liability. It is our responsibility as planners and policy makers to identify underutilized resources and revitalize them so that they are an asset for the community. To arrive at the various proposals and recommendations at the end of this thesis, experts from different organizations and city government agencies have been interviewed. Articles in journals and newspapers were studied to better understand the magnitude and scale of the homelessness issue in New York. In addition, publications on housing policies and historical studies of homelessness have been reviewed in detail. This thesis finds that repurposing abandoned houses can be a successful housing model for the homeless, given certain amendments and changes to the way these structures are governed. The four major recommendations this thesis makes are: stakeholder engagement, gaining community support, flexing existing policy frameworks and enhancing government support systems. Innovative mechanisms are required to fully utilize the potential of these structures and alleviate this issue of homelessness. This will not only increase the options available to city agencies to house the homeless but also revive neighborhoods in which these houses are present.

Geographic Areas


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More About This Work

Academic Units
Urban Planning
Thesis Advisors
Hutson, Malo A.
M.S., Columbia University
Published Here
June 29, 2018