From the NY Times:
Someone had pried open the metal door of an 11th-floor apartment at a public housing complex in Brooklyn with what appeared to be a crowbar, leaving a gash near the lock. No one was home. But then, no one is ever home: Apartment 11D was vacant. So was 1E — insulation covered the door’s missing peephole — and at least two dozen other apartments in the 11-story building at the Ingersoll Houses in Fort Greene.
In another building at the same complex, near Myrtle Avenue and St. Edwards Street, more than half of the 36 units are empty. “It’s a shame,” said a resident, who, like several other tenants, asked that her name not be used out of fear of retribution from her landlord and the neighborhood’s criminal element. “They have them sitting here, just wasted.”
While more than 130,000 families are on the waiting list for a city public housing apartment, hundreds of units at the Ingersoll Houses and the adjacent Whitman Houses are vacant — 923 out of nearly 3,500 units, according to the landlord, the New York City Housing Authority, the city’s public housing agency. The majority are unoccupied because of a costly, long-delayed modernization project that has forced hundreds of tenants to relocate and has fueled rumors, repeatedly denied by the agency, that low-income residents are being pushed out to convert the buildings into private luxury housing as Fort Greene gentrifies.
Anxiety remains high at Whitman and Ingersoll, tenants, elected officials and community advocates said, because unoccupied units have been used by drug dealers, vandals and squatters, and so many apartments have sat empty for so long. Apartments awaiting renovations at both complexes have been vacant for an average of four years, according to the housing agency.