Officials announce initiative to convert 'cluster' sites into affordable housing

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NEW YORK -

New York City officials announced Tuesday a new method to be used in the fight against homelessness.

The goal is to convert "cluster" buildings into permanent affordable housing for homeless families.

As News 12 has reported, two young girls died in a Hunts Point cluster shelter last year after authorities say a radiator exploded in the building.

Cluster sites are tucked away in private and sometimes dilapidated buildings where homeless people blend in with other tenants.

The Bronx was home to more than 600 cluster units that Mayor Bill de Blasio shut down. The city will now be helping nonprofit developers acquire and rehab cluster sites, using eminent domain to take the property from landlords if they don't want to cooperate.

The city's Department of Homeless Services has reduced the use of cluster shelters by 35 percent since January of 2016, including the closure of more than 1,000 cluster units. 

The city plans on acquiring privately owned buildings where the majority of residents are homeless families, even if it has to seize the properties.

The city says homeless families and non-homeless families residing in clusters will be offered the chance to stay as tenants with a new rent-stabilized lease.

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