City will convert 14 apartment buildings into housing for homeless

Neighborhood Restore paid $74M for the portfolio; city financed the purchase

DSS commissioner Steven Banks with 148 West 124th Street (left) and 79 East 125th Street (right) (Credit: Google Maps and Getty Images)
DSS commissioner Steven Banks with 148 West 124th Street (left) and 79 East 125th Street (right) (Credit: Google Maps and Getty Images)

UPDATE, Feb. 21, 2020, 4 p.m.: The city has taken the next step in converting over a dozen Manhattan and Bronx apartment buildings into housing for hundreds of homeless New Yorkers.

The Neighborhood Restore Housing Development Fund Corp., a nonprofit that partners with the city on affordable housing projects, paid $74 million for the 14 buildings, property records show. The seller was landlord Mark Irgang, according to records.

The city provided about $80 million to finance the purchase.

“Through this latest transaction, we are immediately providing permanent affordable housing to approximately 600 additional New Yorkers experiencing homelessness,” Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks said in a statement. Banks added that the buildings will be upgraded “to guarantee rent-stabilized leases and regulatory protections for these families.”

Five of the properties are in the Bronx, with most on East 138th Street. The rest are in Manhattan, such as 148 West 124th Street and 79 East 125th Street.

The city announced in November its plan to scoop up 14 cluster-site properties — those in which the city pays the landlords to rent out units to house homeless families — and convert them into permanent affordable housing for homeless families.

The city could spend at least $41 million for the buildings, according to the Daily News, which found that current residents live in squalor, from caved-in ceilings to bug infestations.

“These buildings were renovated completely to beautiful condition at the time they entered the cluster program,” Irgang said. He noted that the properties were managed by the Acacia Network, whose responsibilities included maintenance and repairs, including pest control and hiring security services.

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Acacia called the mismanagement allegations “simply untrue.”

“Acacia Network is proud of the impeccable care taken in managing these buildings for more than 15 years,” the firm said in a statement.

Neighborhood Restore did not immediately return a request for comment.

The Neighborhood Restore purchase, which will provide housing for 224 households with permanent housing, is part of the city’s plan to end the Giuliani-era cluster program. Since January 2016, the city has phased out about 70 percent of cluster units.

Neighborhood Restore, MHANY Management and Samaritan Village will operate the buildings.

The city’s Law Department hired Metropolitan Valuation Services to appraise the buildings, and the firm’s valuation was $60.1 million. The final price was determined by what the city would have paid if they had sought to acquire the property through eminent domain, which would tack on extra costs and time.

Update: A previous version of this article did not include a statement from Acacia Network.

Write to Mary Diduch at