NEW YORK CITY — The city's homeless shelters have more than 21,000 open violations, according to a scorecard issued by Mayor Bill de Blasio.
The city's cluster sites, rental apartments in privately owned buildings that are used as shelters, had 14,418 open violations, 67 percent of the total. The city announced a plan last month to eliminate the use of the decrepit cluster sites to house people.
The cluster shelter units housed 11,000 people in 260 buildings across the city and cost taxpayers $125 million per year in rent and social services costs. The costs of the apartments are well above market rent value even though many of the buildings are on the Public Advocate's worst landlord list.
And making repairs has not been an easy task. Even though the city reported closing 1,593 violations at the cluster sites, there were 1,181 new violations in December alone.
The city's non-cluster sites had 6,983 violations, an average of half a violation per apartment at the 357 sites.
The Shelter Repair Scorecard was supposed to be issued months ago but was delayed. The scorecard is to be used to define the scope of the problem facing the city's troubled shelter system and the progress made in fixing it, said de Blasio.
“We are determined to give every family and individual in a homeless shelter decent living conditions," he said in a statement.
"We have been increasing inspections to identify problems, and we now have a scorecard to track our progress in addressing them."
The city's current shelter population is close to a record high with a total of 58,128 people, including more than 23,384 children.
The condition of the system has come under close scrutiny recently.
Gov. Andrew Cuomo said city shelters are so unsafe and in such poor condition that homeless individuals would rather sleep on the street. Cuomo announced a plan in his State of the State address to have Comptroller Scott Stringer inspect the shelters.
And Stringer's recent audit of the city's family shelters found families living in "obscene" conditions with rats and roaches and serious safety violations because the city does not have enough staff to monitor conditions.
The mayor said he inherited the problems, but has vowed to fix them.
"Many of these violations are long-standing problems stemming from a lack of funding. We are increasing our repair work for all shelters and have increased our funding for not-for-profit shelter providers," de Blasio said. "We won’t rest until every shelter meets standards."
The city has also increased the frequency of shelter inspections, finding 17,312 violations in 2015, a 47 percent increase from the 11,785 violations found in 2013.
The city has committed to inspect all shelter sites twice per year and also increased the shelter maintenance and repair budget by $17 million to $54 million for fiscal year 2016.