Cluster sites are privately-owned apartment buildings that are used to shelter homeless New York City families. Landlords of these buildings receive an arguably exorbitant amount of money from the City to house homeless families. However, despite this reported influx of cash, cluster sites have become notorious for their squalid and dangerous conditions. Presumably, the notorious condition of cluster sites is the catalyst for their phase-out.
According to NYC’s Social Indicators Report of April 2016: “In January 2016, the Mayor announced a three-year plan to phase out the use of “cluster sites” to house homeless families. For the past 16 years, the City has been placing families in these apartments in privately owned buildings across the City. A review ordered by the Mayor found that cluster sites represent the worst combination of high cost, disrepair, and poor access to the services homeless families need.
The City intends to replace the shelter capacity of these units with new housing models and, if needed, additional temporary shelter with appropriate social services.
The approximately 3,000 cluster site units that currently exist will either be converted back to low-rent permanent housing – after working with the landlords on needed repairs – or alternative shelter arrangements will be provided to residents by December 31, 2018.”
Micro-unit apartments are also known as microapartments. Wikipedia defines microapartments as follows: “One-room, self-contained living space, usually purpose built, designed to accommodate a sitting space, sleeping space, bathroom and kitchenette.” The size of these compact apartments can be as small as 47 square feet.
Micro-unit apartments are much smaller than New York regulation’s minimum allowable size for an apartment of 400 square feet. This New York minimum standard was set in 1987. However, developers have found a way around meeting this standard. There have been developers who have received “waivers” excluding them from meeting this requirement. An example of this is Carmel Place, a nine-story building located at, 335 East 27th Street.
Astonishingly, the market rate for the Carmel Place micro-units were list as follows in November 2015, according to the New York Times: “A furnished 355-square-foot apartment on the second floor is listed at $2,910, while an unfurnished 360-square foot unit on the same floor is listed for $2,750- a $160-a-month discount. The lowest-priced unit listed, at $2,540, is a furnished 265-square foot studio on the third floor.” Also, 14 out of the 55 micro-units at Carmel Place were allegedly designated for “affordable housing” (priced at $950 per month).