Nearly 1,000 Brooklyn public housing apartments sit vacant, awaiting renovations for years

December 08, 2009 10:04AM

Of the roughly 3,500 apartments at the adjacent Ingersoll and Whitman houses, public housing complexes in Fort Greene, 923 are currently sitting vacant, waiting for renovations from the city’s Housing Authority for an average of four years. The long waits have given the buildings an aura of abandonment, and squatters, drug dealers and vandals have been quick to capitalize on the empty space. Beyond the rampant crime, residents are wary that the renovation story is all a ruse to oust low-income tenants and make room for luxury housing as Brooklyn gentrifies, allegations that the city has repeatedly denied. The renovation project, which the agency has called the largest for public housing in the country, was announced in 2002. It was originally slated for completion this year at a cost of $83 million, and many tenants were relocated long before construction began. This past April, agency officials said the new expected completion date is February 2012. The cost will be $248 million, helped along by $108 million in federal stimulus funding.