New York City is shelling out $122 million to purchase 14 cluster sites in the Bronx, with plans to convert them into permanent affordable housing.
The purchase covers 777 affordable units, including 554 units for families experiencing homelessness. The deal for the buildings closed on June 23, according to the nonprofit news outlet City Limits.
In total, the housing will be available for approximately 1,500 people. Some of the residents already live in the units, while others are moving from other locations. Hundreds of units will be for individuals or families who earn less than 60 percent of area median income.
Mayor Bill de Blasio has repeatedly pledged to reduce the city’s reliance on cluster sites — which are privately owned and can charge high rates to the city to house families experiencing homelessness — by converting them into affordable housing.
Critics of cluster sites say the initiative, which dates back to the Giuliani administration, has enriched bad landlords who make little effort to keep the buildings safe. The city has either converted or closed 95 percent of the 3,650 cluster units that existed in January 2016. In 2018, De Blasio vowed to close all of them by this year.
The Bronx buildings will be run by Settlement Housing Fund, Bowery Residents Committee, MBD Community Housing Corp, Fordham Bedford Housing-Corporation and Neighborhood Renewal HDFC. A building at 1206 Westchester Avenue is the biggest among them, with 104 units.
Joseph Friedman is listed as an owner or co-owner on a majority of the properties that were sold to the city. Other landlords who sold include Alan Fried, Samuel Berger, Sol Singer and Edwin Biblioni. There are 1,105 open violations in the 14 buildings.
As of July 15, there were 8,305 families staying in homeless shelters in the city, according to DHS, including approximately 11,000 adults and 14,500 children.
[City Limits] — Holden Walter-Warner