City to convert 14 cluster sites to permanent affordable housing

PHOTO BY MARK HALLUM/AMNEWYORK

The move would provide permanent affordable housing for up to 200 families.

After previously committing to end unsafe, temporary cluster sites to shelter homeless families, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced Tuesday that his administration would acquire 14 of these locations to provide permanent affordable housing for up to 200 families.

The new locations would join 17 other buildings that were acquired for nonprofit developers earlier this year which, de Blasio said, will provide stable housing for families experiencing homelessness.

“We’re making good on our promise to transform the shelter system and create more, high-quality permanent housing for New Yorkers in need,” he said. “With these conversions, over 200 families will have homes of their own, setting them on a path to lasting stability for generations to come.”

A December 2016 incident in which two Bronx toddlers in cluster housing were killed due to a radiator valve malfunction brought cluster sites into question even though the administration called the event a “freak accident.”

De Blasio called the current acquisition effort progress in the ongoing elimination of cluster sites — a practice that dates back to the Giuliani administration.

The newly acquired cluster sites will undergo rehabilitation and renovation over the next few months as the city Department of Homeless Services (DHS) in the meantime provides temporary housing, according to the administration.

For the last several years, the homeless population in the city has been estimated to be around 60,000 to 73,000, with the de Blasio administration scrambling to find adequate shelter, especially in the winter months.

Not to be outdone, Governor Andrew Cuomo announced just hours later that $56.5 million in state funding would be committed for 600 units of permanent supportive housing for veterans, the mentally ill and survivors of domestic violence. Up to 40 emergency shelter beds will be included in the package.

Cuomo’s office said most of the funds will be focused on the New York City metro area, including Nassau and Westchester counties, with $20 billion promised in the five-year housing plan.

This aims to preserve 100,000 units of affordable housing and 6,000 of supportive housing, according to the governor.

“This funding will help provide some of our most vulnerable residents with a safe, stable place to live with access to the support services they need,” Cuomo said. “These projects are one more step towards ensuring all New Yorkers have access to affordable housing in their communities.”

Mark Hallum