Hated cluster site housing program to receive $200M in funding

Contracts with four vendors will be extended through 2024
December 14, 2015 08:39AM

Though the mayor’s own chief investigator called for cutbacks to the much-maligned cluster housing program, it’s not going away. In fact, the housing program for the homeless will soon receive $200 million from the city.

The Department of Homeless Services proposed four contracts in the Bronx and Brooklyn totaling more than $200 million over four-and-a-half years, with an option to extend through 2024, Crain’s reported.

The cluster site program seeks to move homeless New Yorkers out of shelters and into private apartment buildings, offering subsidies to landlords. Many of the sites have been criticized for their poor maintenance and security conditions, and the program as a whole has been cited for reducing the number of rent-stabilized units on the market.

Two of the organizations set to win contracts — Acacia Network and Bushwick Economic Development Corp. (BEDCO) — were taken to task earlier this year by the Department of Investigation for dangerous and unsanitary conditions.

Acacia told Crain’s the problems — broken elevators, broken glass and puddles of urine in common spaces — have been corrected.

The city has 3,079 units of cluster housing, down slightly from last year. The de Blasio administration said it cleared 83 percent of the more than 10,000 violations at cluster houses.

The city paid $95 per month on average for residents at Acacia apartments — nearly three times what market-rate tenants pay in those neighborhoods, Department of Investigations Commissioner Mark Peters said.

City officials say they’re working on a solution to phase out the program, but with record numbers of families in shelters, have had trouble moving away from cluster houses. [Crain’s]Ariel Stulberg