The homeless population has risen to an all-time high, forcing the de Blasio administration to house desperate families in decrepit tenements red-flagged by the city’s own inspectors as hazardous.
Since he arrived at City Hall pledging to turn things around, Mayor de Blasio has struggled to confront a long-intractable problem that has only gotten worse.
By mid-December, the homeless census reached a record 59,068 — nearly the population of Utica, city records show. The Coalition for the Homeless says it peaked even higher at 60,352.
The homeless count, according to the city and the coalition, includes 25,000 children. And it represents a 10% jump from the 53,615 in shelters on de Blasio’s Inauguration Day.
To reduce these distressing numbers, the city has tried to move families into scarce permanent housing, but has been forced to continue using much-criticized apartments known as “cluster sites.”
As a candidate, de Blasio vowed to end the use of clusters, which were often cited for outrageous code violations such as collapsed ceilings, lead paint, vermin and busted boilers.
Despite the mayor’s wishes, the city actually increased the number of cluster units in 2014 by nearly 8% — from 2,918 to 3,143. The 225-unit jump was far less than the 1,150 cluster units Bloomberg added in his last two years, but critics were hoping for a total turnaround.
The problems with these units persist.
A computer analysis by the Daily News and Columbia Journalism School’s New York World found that as of Dec. 31, at least 27 current cluster sites had at least two serious housing-code violations per apartment.
That included 10 buildings with at least three serious violations per apartment, and one building, a 20-unit, red-brick tenement on President St. in Crown Heights, with nearly five open violations per unit as of Dec. 31.
Since then, some of these buildings have cleared some violations while others have racked up even more, records show.
These violations plague the aging tenement buildings where about a dozen nonprofit groups hired by the city choose to locate tenants.
Buildings leased by the biggest providers — including the Bushwick Economic Development Corp., Acacia Network and Camba Inc. — have accumulated hundreds of open-code violations, records show. None of the groups returned calls seeking comment.
All of these nonprofits rake in millions of dollars from the city, state and feds each year. Meanwhile, many regularly place families in units with bugs, peeling paint, collapsed plaster and spotty heat, records show.
All told, The News/Columbia analysis identified 6,767 serious code violations in 224 city-funded cluster sites across the five boroughs as of Dec. 31.