The Real Deal New York

Housing the homeless in private buildings isn’t working

"Cluster site program" is costly and fails its charges

August 28, 2015 08:35AM

60 Clarkson Street in Prospect-Lefferts Garden

60 Clarkson Street in Prospect-Lefferts Garden, which houses “cluster-site” residents

Even city officials admit that a program designed to house homeless people for whom there’s no space in shelters is an abject failure, driving out rent-stabilized tenants while also subjecting homeless families to deplorable conditions.

Yet, more than a decade after the program’s inception, officials still can’t seem to roll out a smarter, less wasteful, more sensible plan.

The so called “cluster-site” program puts up about 3,000 homeless families in about 400 private buildings throughout the city, at the cost of roughly $2,500 a month per family, according to The New York Times.

The program, begun in 2000, has grown steadily since. It empowers social service agents to find vacant units in the city and negotiate with lands to house and provide social services to residents for whom there’s no space at shelters.

The high payments, and often the bad management of the buildings, drives rent-regulated tenants out and more and more homeless families in.

Both the de Blasio and Bloomberg administrations made efforts to reform the program, to no avail.

“We’re using every tool we can get our hands on,” Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, the deputy mayor for health and human services, told the Times. “But would cluster-site housing be eliminated anytime soon? “No, not in the foreseeable future,” she said. [NYT]Ariel Stulberg