February 26, 2018
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DE BLASIO ADMINISTRATION REDUCES CLUSTER UNITS BY 42 PERCENT
NYC ends use of more than 1,500 cluster units citywide, helping over 5,000 New Yorkers transition out of clusters
NEW YORK— The de Blasio Administration today announced that the Department of Homeless Services has ended the use of more than 42 percent of cluster units citywide as part of its commitment to phasing out the 18-year-old stop-gap cluster site program. Since Mayor de Blasio’s 90-day review of homeless services, the City has phased out the use of more than 1,500 cluster units as shelter, including more than 1,000 units in the Bronx, where cluster use is historically most prevalent, transitioning more than 5,000 New Yorkers out of cluster units as a result.
On January 1, 2016, the City was utilizing 3,658 cluster units across 314 buildings, including 2,877 units across 236 buildings in the Bronx, where the vast majority of cluster sites have been located. Since that date, we have completely ended the use of more than 1,200 cluster units, across 159 buildings, citywide. We are also in the process of transitioning roughly 300 cluster units to State-licensed Tier II shelters being operated by local not-for-profit social service providers with roots in the community and offering a full range of social services.
Additionally, in December 2017, Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Banks announced the City's plan to convert another 800 cluster units into permanent affordable housing for homeless families, which will address more than a third of the remaining cluster units. When this conversion is complete, paired with outright closures already underway as well as transitions to licensed shelters, the City will have reduced the use of such cluster units by more than 60 percent citywide.
"Providing quality services to all homeless New Yorkers in shelter is paramount to this administration and today’s milestone is another step in the right direction," said Deputy Mayor for Health and Human Services Dr. Herminia Palacio. "We’ve abandoned the band-aid approach of prior administrations and committed to getting out of clusters first, as we work to open shelters with the appropriate services to help our homeless neighbors get back on their feet and into permanent housing."
"Today, the City has achieved a major milestone as we turn the tide on homelessness—ending the use of more than 42 percent of all cluster units citywide and transitioning more than 5,000 New Yorkers out of cluster units as a result," said Department of Social Services Commissioner Steven Banks. "We continue to take aggressive action closing down remaining sites, which have been used as an ineffective stop-gap since the Giuliani administration, while we replace them with high-quality borough-based shelters to better help New Yorkers experiencing homelessness get back on their feet."
"Today we announce significant progress transforming a haphazard shelter system and doing better for our neighbors in need—transitioning 5,000 homeless New Yorkers out of cluster units since the Mayor’s 90-day review of homeless services," said Department of Homeless Services Administrator Joslyn Carter. "This monumental effort is at the core of our mission to provide better services and supports for New Yorkers experiencing homelessness, 70 percent of whom are families, so they can restabilize their lives with dignity. Closing decades-old band-aid programs and opening new high-quality sites that offer families and the individuals across the five boroughs the chance to get back on their feet nearer to support networks is an important step forward for homeless New Yorkers and for community across New York City."
Cluster units are individual private apartments rented across apartment buildings spread throughout the city on a per-unit basis to shelter homeless families. This practice dates back more than 18 years, contributing to the haphazard development of the current shelter system, and is less effective for homeless families than high-quality shelters that are more conducive to delivering social services.
In February 2017, the Mayor announced "Turning the Tide on Homelessness in New York City," his borough-by-borough plan for addressing the challenge of homelessness, which affects every community across the five boroughs. To address and transform a shelter system that expanded in a haphazard way over the past four decades, the Mayor's plan will end the use of all 360 cluster sites and commercial hotel facilities citywide, while opening a smaller number of 90 high-quality transitional housing facilities.
"I commend the efforts of Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Banks in shutting down cluster sites," said Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, Chair of the NYS Assembly Social Services Committee. "Converting cluster sites to permanent affordable housing and properly regulated facilities with adequate services will provide better solution for some of the most vulnerable New Yorkers."
"With the majority of cluster sites located in the Bronx, I am thrilled that the City is making steady progress in phasing out this outdated, expensive, and ineffective system," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "This shift will transition homeless families and individuals into shelters that have the social supports they need and provide communities access to units that had been taken off the market to serve as overpriced cluster site units. All New Yorkers are better served by a shelter system that works to address the root of the problem, without further exasperating our housing crisis."
"Our vision for a better future will only become reality through steady, consistent execution," said Council Member Stephen Levin, Chair of the NYC Council Committee on General Welfare. "That’s what we are seeing here today. As we celebrate these significant milestones, we know we are taking important steps to providing for our most vulnerable New Yorkers. Those facing the challenge of living without a stable home deserve the most effective pathways to permanent housing. I look forward to working with the administration as we pursue the most promising paths towards permanency."
"Cluster sites provide a short term answer to a problem that deserves thoughtful and permanent answers. I applaud the Administration for its commitment to phasing out cluster sites and for successfully transitioning 42% of these sites back to long term, community driven use," said Council Member Vanessa Gibson. "For too long, my community has shouldered too many short-term fixes and not enough long-term solutions when it comes to homeless services. Today's announcement is an important step forward for the future of the Bronx and for New York."