The city will finance the acquisition of cluster sites by locally-based not-for-profit developers requiring them to convert the sites into affordable housing for homeless and low-income families, creating more than 1,100 affordable units
For more than four decades the NYC shelter system has been continuously expanded, while affordable housing has been on the steady decline, culminating in the current housing and homelessness crisis. Additionally, over the past 17 years, the city has used cluster sites, private apartments, to provide shelter for homeless families, a practice that the de Blasio administration seeks to end. On Tuesday, Mayor de Blasio announced a new step to reverse this trend by helping not-for-profit developers to acquire and rehab residential “cluster-site” buildings with the goal to convert them into permanent affordable housing.
“Our city’s homelessness crisis wasn’t created overnight and it won’t be solved overnight. It requires us to come up with creative and bold new strategies to help those on the street and those in need of shelter and affordable permanent housing,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio. “This initiative will transform dozens of dilapidated temporary apartments into quality, permanently affordable homes.”
Under the new plan, the city will finance the acquisition of cluster buildings by locally-based not-for-profit developers and require the new owners to convert the sites into affordable, rent-stabilized housing for homeless and low-income families. If negotiations to buy cluster-site buildings are not successful, the city will use eminent domain to acquire them. The plan aims to reduce homelessness as well as add affordable units to the housing market.
“The city must utilize every tool that is available to combat our homelessness crisis, and this new initiative deploys meaningful financial and legal resources for that very purpose while creating hundreds of new, nonprofit-owned homes that are permanently affordable in communities like central Brooklyn,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.
The city has identified 25 to 30 cluster-site buildings which are currently home to approximately 800 homeless families and 300 other tenants. Converting these buildings will create over 1,100 permanent and affordable homes.
During this transition, the cluster apartments will continue to be operated as shelter. After the conversion is completed, both homeless families and non-homeless tenants residing at the locations will be offered the opportunity to remain as tenants with a new rent-stabilized lease.
“For almost twenty years, cluster sites removed affordable rent-regulated apartments from the affordable rental housing stock, exacerbating the homeless crisis and rewarding bad landlords by overpaying them,” said Seymour W. James. Jr., Attorney-In-Chief of the Legal Aid Society. “As we’ve maintained, the only true fix to combat homelessness lies with the preservation and creation of long term, affordable housing.”
The announcement follows the release of the Mayor’s Housing New York 2.0 last month, an updated plan accelerating the creation and preservation of 200,000 affordable homes by 2022, and expanding that goal to finance 300,000 affordable homes by 2026.