We have blasted the de Blasio administration on myriad subjects, with his (lack of) handling of the homeless crisis that has marred our beloved borough and Big Apple for years—and seemingly growing worse—a repeated target.
And after studying the bright idea put forth by the administration this week, we can confidently confirm that an end to Hizzoner’s missteps where the most unfortunate of us are concerned is nowhere in sight.
De Blasio announced on Tuesday that the City will help not-for-profit developers acquire and rehabilitate residential “cluster site” buildings, currently used to house homeless families, and convert them into permanent affordable housing.
The cherry on the sundae: The mayor declared that if negotiations to buy cluster sites are not successful, the City will use eminent domain to acquire the properties.
Tuesday’s announcement is part of de Blasio’s broader “Turning the Tide on Homelessness, Neighborhood by Neighborhood,” vision to tackle the crisis, which he unveiled with great fanfare back in February. One of the three strategies outlined in the 114-page, borough-based plan called for completely eliminating the use of cluster apartment units – a practice the City has relied on over the past 17 years – by the end of 2021, and commercial hotel facilities by the end of 2023. The ambitious arrangement also commits to reducing the current number of shelter sites by 45 percent; and keeping homeless New Yorkers closer to their communities and supports that they need.
And so, in order to achieve the goals set in “Turning the Tide…” the City said it has to shutter cluster sites through “negotiated resolution or use of eminent domain.”
There was no shortage of carefully choreographed pats on the back waiting for Hizzoner as he announced the new “plan.” Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks, who probably should have been handed his walking papers last year after the Maspeth hotel debacle – where the City attempted to rent rooms from a Holiday Inn Express for homeless families without consulting the community – had this to say:
“Addressing a crisis decades in the making demands aggressive action that leaves no stone unturned. As we end the Giuliani-era cluster program, already reducing citywide use by more than a third, this strategy is part of our commitment to using every tool at our disposal to help New Yorkers in need get back on their feet—while also creating permanent housing for homeless families and preserving affordability for thousands of New Yorkers for years to come. Today’s announcement should make crystal clear that we mean business, moving forward on every front to phase out this 17-year-old stop-gap measure once and for all in our mission to better serve homeless New Yorkers and all New Yorkers.”
One astute borough blogger put it best this week:
“In other words, we’re condemning buildings that already house homeless families in order to turn them over to someone else and then reclassifying the people living in them as ‘not homeless.’ This sounds like a plan. A bad one.”


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>