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Protecting Families, Safeguarding Affordability: De Blasio Administration Expanding Programs to Keep New Yorkers in Their Homes and Keep Neighborhoods Strong

April 14, 2015

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$6 million City investment ensures four Bronx buildings will be guaranteed affordable to low-income tenants for 30 years

Buildings in disrepair getting City-backed upgrades: renovated apartments, new roofs, replaced plumbing and electrical systems

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been today met tenants at a Bronx building in the midst of major upgrades and renovations through City affordable housing preservation initiatives. Protecting and improving existing affordable housing is a major component of the Mayor’s Housing New York Plan. Last year, the City initiated preservation work at 11,185 apartments. This year, the City is expanding its toolkit to reach more New Yorkers whose homes are becoming unaffordable or distressed.

The building visited by Mayor de Blasio at 2432 University Avenue is part of a four-building, 106-apartment Bronx group that will now be locked into a 30-year affordable rental agreement. That means current low-income tenants can stay in their homes assured that they can afford their rent, and units must remain affordable for decades to come. The $6.4 million City investment, along with low-income housing tax credits and tax-exempt bonds, will also improve conditions at the aging buildings by repairing the masonry, electrical and plumbing systems; replacing windows and doors; upgrading the lobbies and common spaces; and performing lead and asbestos abatement. The apartment renovations include new kitchens, bathrooms, flooring, doors and Energy Star appliances. Financing for the project closed last year and work on the buildings will be complete by March 2016.

“There is no higher priority in our plan than protecting the affordable homes New Yorkers live in right here and now. When we invest to keep a building affordable, we’re not just making a deal on paper – we’re securing the future of the City’s families, apartment by apartment. Every one of these projects strengthens a neighborhood and ensures that the people who built a community can stay there for decades to come,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Preserving affordable housing and ensuring that families who put down roots have the opportunity to stay in their homes is one of the most important things we can do to strengthen communities,” said HPD Commissioner Vicki Been. “The City’s strategic investments in preservation help to safeguard affordability in our neighborhoods, provide stability to existing tenants, and lead to a healthier and more sustainable housing stock for the future.  I thank the Mayor for his leadership and vision, as well as our partners like Fordham Bedford, Enterprise Community Partners, JP Morgan Chase, and others who help make New York a more affordable and equitable city.”

“The four buildings in the Mount Sharon portfolio demonstrate the importance of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s mandate to preserve affordable housing in New York City,” said HDC President Gary Rodney. “Thanks to a collaborative and multilayered financing strategy by HDC, HPD, Fordham Bedford and Enterprise, approximately $9 million of renovations will greatly improve the quality of these homes while maintaining their long-term affordability.  HDC will continue to work with the Mayor and our fellow agencies to identify and preserve affordable housing across the city with similar strategies that engage communities while leveraging public and private investments.”  

The City employs a wide range of strategies and tools to keep New Yorkers in their homes, improve aging housing and bring more buildings into long-term affordability agreements:

  • Investing City funding and other critical subsidy sources in aging affordable housing to rehabilitate it and protect it from disrepair
  • Preventing harassment of rent-regulated tenants, and preventing rent-stabilized housing from being unlawfully deregulated
  • Renewing subsidy when older buildings’ tax credits or programs expire, so long-time tenants can stay in their homes and apartments stay affordable for the next generation
  • Bringing small, market-rate buildings into long-term affordability programs in exchange for funding for capital repairs or refinancing, and tax exemptions that reduce operating expenses

The 10-year, five-borough Housing New York plan made major changes to preservation programs to deepen their reach and assist more tenants:

  • Increase opportunities for both lower and moderate income families: New guidelines expand eligibility and allow some vacant units in newly preserved buildings to be set aside for formerly homeless families and/or families earning up to moderate incomes, ensuring more New Yorkers have access to affordable housing and fostering stronger mixed-income communities.
  • Leverage more private investment and stretch public dollars further: By reducing financing costs, HPD is helping buildings more easily access private capital for repairs and investment, helping reduce the amount of City subsidy needed, helping keep rents more affordable and expanding the number of units preserved.
  • Engage tenants and owners before buildings become at-risk: Rather than waiting for buildings to become physically or financially distressed, HPD has created a new Office of Neighborhood Strategies to proactively reach out to stakeholders, conduct workshops and assist owners and tenants with navigating City programs.  
  • Launch a Green Energy Savings Program: HPD will soon launch a new program to assist owners of small- to mid-sized buildings of five to 50 units in financing energy and water efficiency improvements to help lower operating costs, preserve affordability and improve the long-term sustainability of their properties.

“At a time when half of New York City spends more than 30 percent of their income on rent, and tonight, over 60,000 New Yorkers will have no place to call home, the need for affordable housing has never been greater. Preserving affordable housing units is a critical part of the broader affordable housing plan. Allowing tenants to say in their homes – and providing important updates and repairs – keeps communities together, reduces costs, and maintains New York's unique architectural infrastructure,” said Public Advocate Letitia James.

“I applaud Mayor de Blasio and Commissioner Been for their commitment to making housing more affordable for New Yorkers. Many of my constituents living in the Bronx will benefit through their latest initiative, which will not only help improve their quality of life but of the entire community. Our families deserve a secure roof over their heads. As a champion for affordable housing in Congress, I am proud to support this critical investment on the future of our Great City,” said Congressman Charles Rangel.

State Senator Jose M. Serrano said, “In order to preserve the diversity and vibrancy of our neighborhoods, we must not only keep people in their homes, but work towards guaranteeing the safety of these residents. In a city that is rapidly changing, we must provide a sense of stability for New Yorkers. Many thanks to Mayor Bill de Blasio and Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Vicki Been for protecting New Yorkers.”

“Protecting and improving existing affordable housing in the Bronx is critical,” said Assembly Member Victor Pichardo. “I commend Mayor de Blasio, Commissioner Been and members of the City Council for taking a stand on behalf of low-income tenants in my district and throughout the entire city.”

About the Mount Sharon HDFC Buildings:

This portfolio includes four buildings in the Bronx. There are a total of 106 units in this portfolio. This portfolio serves households earning 50 to 60 percent of Area Median Income and is being undertaken by Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation in partnership with HDC, FG-PH Corporation, OCV Architects, JP Morgan Chase, and Enterprise Community Partners. The total development cost is $22.8 million with $6.4 million in loans from the City, which also provided tax-exempt bonds and low income housing tax credits. The project will be subject to 30-year Regulatory Agreements issued by HDC and HPD, and HPD’s HOME written agreement will have a 15-year compliance period.

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