With the homeless crisis reaching an all-time high of 60,000 New Yorkers living in shelters, lawmakers and officials have struggled to find viable solutions to the ongoing issue.
Jerry Frohnhoefer, an adjunct professor of urban sociology at LaGuardia Community College, believes he has a possible answer.
Frohnhoefer is chair of the Fiorello Homes for the Homeless Campaign Association, an advocacy group that is pushing to build modular homes on federal, state and city-owned land.
“We have a plan that can work, that can house 93,000 people in a 36-month period,” he said. “So we can end homelessness as it exists right now.”
Frohnhoefer is not a fan of the mayor’s homeless policies. He believes the mayor’s Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH) rezoning plan doesn’t really benefit those who need it.
“It is a plan not for the homeless, it’s a plan for the developers,” he said. “It’s guaranteeing them income based upon a 20 percent tax abatement that no longer exists.”
According to Frohnhoefer, Comptroller Scott Stringer has identified 1,100 pieces of vacant land that could be developed. He envisions modular houses, four to five stories high, which can have mom-and-pop stores on the bottom floor.
With new technology, such as solar energy, he also believes maintenance costs can be brought down.
“We can put three to four buildings, 550-650 people in there,” he said. “At the same time, work with the community to develop a community center and prevent people from being homeless again.”
Frohnhoefer believes in reducing the number and size of shelters. He said transitional housing should still exist for homeless people suffering from mental illnesses, alcohol problems and drug addiction.
“You can concentrate more resources to help the people rather than scatter the way it is right now,” he said. “Eighty percent of people who get permanent housing never become homeless again.”