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De Blasio Introduces Plan To Convert Cluster Sites For Homeless Into Affordable Housing

Mayor Bill de Blasio

Mayor Bill de Blasio has a plan to address both homelessness and affordable housing in one fell swoop.

The city will provide financial assistance for nonprofit organizations to purchase one-third of all apartments the Department of Homeless Services rents from private landlords to meet homeless shelter requirements — dubbed "cluster sites," the New York Times reports.

Though the cluster apartments are often in otherwise empty or ill-maintained buildings in cheaper areas such as the Bronx, a study by the city's Department of Investigation found that the city pays an average of $2,451 per month — well out of step with average rents in the area, to the degree that some landlords have been accused of kicking out tenants to open up units for the city to rent, according to the Times.

Once the cluster sites are purchased, many of them will be rented to the homeless families currently occupying them — removing the "homeless" label in the most unobtrusive way possible. If landlords refuse to sell, de Blasio said the city will use eminent domain to take possession. Apartments purchased or seized in this manner will be designated as affordable for 30 years.

During de Blasio's current winning streak in terms of affordable housing creation, he and Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen have come under some criticism for failing to adequately address housing for residents well below the area median income, choosing instead to focus on more middle-class residents. With 11,000 people making use of the cluster sites as of 2016, this initiative could add to the deeply affordable housing stock and ensure such a move benefits those who need it most.