Nearly 300 volunteers with the non-profit group Picture the Homeless hit the streets across the five boroughs looking for vacant housing and found an awful lot of it.

While official figures peg New York's vacancy rate at 2.9 percent, Picture the Homeless hopes its findings can be put to use to get rid of the shelter system and put homeless people in homes--volunteers counted 3,500 vacant ones.

There are approximately 40,000 homeless people in New York shelters.