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In a city as populous as New York, homelessness has been a problem for years. What can be done to fix it? New York’s top Real Estate Lawyers share their insights.

In July 2020, there were 58,089 homeless people who slept in the New York City Municipal shelter system, according to the national coalitions for Homeless (NCH), the oldest advocacy and direct service organization for homeless men, women, and children. Families make up two-thirds of the homeless shelter population. The rate of homelessness in the city has reaches the highest levels in recent years since the Great Depression. The number of homeless single adults is 133 percent higher than it was 10 years ago, according to the organization. While the pandemic exacerbated the problem due to leaving many unemployed and evicted from their homes, the problem started long before, with NCH citing the lack of affordable accessible to lower-income residents as the primary cause of homelessness. We talked to the Best Lawyers – recognized attorneys to discuss the growing rate of homelessness in New York City and what can be done to solve the issue.

Best Lawyers in the Law (BLL): How could homelessness be prevented? 
Adam Leitman Bailey (ALB): Almost all of the homeless population today could be prevented by abolishing rent regulation and other anti-capitalistic programs that remove housing stock from a pool of available housing and raise housing prices. With an economy as strong as New York’s with so many resources, only severe governmental interference via poorly drafted housing laws or closing down businesses could bring housing to its knees. IN the last two years, the state government and state executive branch managed to achieve this feat causing a sharp decline in housing and the economy in general.

Best Lawyers in the Law: What are legal measures that can be taken to combat the problem of homelessness in New York? 
Adam Leitman Bailey: A government needs to take care of its weakest citizens and incentivize property owners to provide housing for those that need it most. However, that same government has a duty to provide a platform to allow a democracy and capitalist system where businesses can thrive. Without one, the other will not be an option. Passing housing laws that punish property owners and reward very few tenants like with rent regulation and the housing stability and tenant protection act passed in 2019 have led to thousands of vacant unites and tens of millions of dollars in less tax revenue for New York City and state. Once these laws are repealed and a free-market system is restored, we can pass the most needy — our homeless population who should be guaranteed food and a bed and assistance finding a job.

Best Lawyers in the Law: How can homeless shelters be improved?
Adam Leitman Bailey: Homeless shelters work when societies do not have barriers on their ownership to property. When free from government intervention, their property is worth more and they can donate more and do donate more to homeless organization because they know that the key to attracting tenants or owners to an area is having a safer city where everyone has a place to live.

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