Blasio’s administration’s affordable housing campaign has moved to new territory with the launch of a $ 13.2 million real estate rehabilitation in Harlem.
For the first time in decades, the city has ceded ownership of the land to a Community Land Trust (CLT) and organized a financial package that will pay for buildings to be emptied inside and out.
A council of tenants, community members and non-profit groups will then be tasked with managing the buildings and operating them as affordable rentals on a permanent basis.
Rafael E. Cestero, chairman and CEO of The Community Preservation Corporation, said the company will give those who live in the homes a say in their future and keep them away from accused speculative real estate markets. gentrification and dislocation of local populations.
“With the pandemic exacerbating the housing crisis, especially in communities of color, preserving affordability and creating stability for tenants in our city is more critical than ever,” Cestero said.
“This project will help achieve this goal by ensuring that the local community will have a voice in the future of these properties, as well as helping to ensure their continued affordability. ”
The East Harlem El Barrio Community Land Trust now owns the land located at 53 East 110th Street, 201 East 120th Street, 204 West 121st Street and 304 East 126th Street where the 36 rental apartments and three commercial spaces will undergo a substantial renovation.
The CLT will lead the project, ensuring that the development serves the Harlem community, and will work with its Mutual Housing Association in partnership with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), The Community Preservation Corporation (CPC) , Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise), Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association Inc, and Community Assisted Tenant Controlled Housing Inc (CATCH).
Under the agreement, the city granted a 40-year Article XI tax exemption, a $ 7 million capital grant, and transferred land ownership to CLT. After the renovations, CLT will enter into a 99-year ground lease with the Mutual Housing Association, with current resident rents set for a typical family of three earning $ 36,000. For vacant apartments, rents will be affordable for a typical three-person household earning up to $ 102,000.
The apartment buildings will include housing for disabled and visually impaired residents. Ten percent of the units will serve formerly homeless households. The City also hopes to allocate additional resources from Section 8 to make some of the vacant units affordable for the average family of three earning up to $ 51,000.
As part of the venture, Enterprise Community Partners has awarded $ 500,000 to the community development association, Banana Kelly, which will work with CATCH on tenant training to support the operations of the housing mutual.
CPC has provided a $ 5.2 million construction loan and a $ 5.8 million permanent loan as part of its partnership with New York City Retirement Systems (NYCRS). The office of city council member Diana Ayala provided support and the office of former city council member Melissa Mark-Viverito contributed $ 500,000.
“El Barrio CLT of East Harlem is helping us chart new territory in the development of affordable, community-driven housing while providing long-term stability and affordability to East Harlem and its residents,” said the HPD curator Louise Carroll.
Calling the company ‘a game changer,’ Hope Burgess, President and CEO of Banana Kelly, said, “We are proud to work with HPD, CPC, CATCH, Enterprise Community Partners, Councilmember Ayala and the residents of CLT East Harlem El Barrio to establish a community land trust that transforms power dynamics over land, allows a greater degree of resident control over land, and reduces the speculative nature of land ownership.
“CLTs are a critical part of the solution to our city’s affordability crisis,” said Diana Ayala, board member, who represents District 8 of East Harlem and the South Bronx. “After supporting the development of CLT East Harlem El Barrio, I am delighted that we are finally announcing the transformation and transition of these properties to affordable units that enable the preservation of community-controlled and deeply affordable housing in East Harlem for generations to come. “
Mayor Bill De Blasio announced his commitment to developing community land trusts in his State of the City address last year. He pledged to give ownership of some 3,000 city-owned properties across town to CLTs and allow communities, rather than developers, to determine how best to use the land to ensure affordability in the city. long term.
The expansion of CLTs is part of the administration’s broader affordable housing policy which has focused on transferring public land to private developers using time-limited accessibility agreements, a practice that opponents maintain leaves open the risk that the promoters may one day privatize.
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