Contractor Threatens to Evict Homeless Families as City Cuts Pay for Criticized Homeless Program

1 Jul

Mayor de Blasio is no fan of cluster site housing for the homeless – where companies rent apartments, loan them to those needing housing and technically help those temporary tenants find jobs and regular housing. Since 2004, when Bloomberg launched this program (following a similar program of Giuliani’s) the city has been paying twice as much rent for the homeless than it would otherwise cost. If rent goes for $1,500 on average, apartments for the homeless cost the city about $3,000.

So, as reported in the New York Times yesterday, Lilliam Barrios-Paoli, deputy mayor for Health and Human Services, is cutting down what the city is going to pay these companies, some of them nonprofits, to do what they’ve been doing. And one of them, Aguila Inc., is threatening evict homeless tenants they’re responsible for, outraging Barrios-Paoli.

I covered this issue, including Aguila, extensively for the Bronx Bureau of City Limits a year ago and in April. Almost no “homeless” tenant I interviewed said the cluster site process was helping them find work, or secure other regular apartments. De Blasio can’t get rid of cluster site all at once but it other efforts may follow. Meanwhile, whether this administration is able to find other companies who will take less money for the same role – while doing it all better – remains to be seen.

Even though this isn’t front-page news now, and elected officials have had little or anything to say about it (both of these things should be occurring), how the city’s efforts to diminish the cluster-site program is very Bronx relevant. It’s the second smallest borough, but it has about 135 of the 230 — more than half — cluster-site buildings in the city.

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