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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development
Press Room


October 14, 1999

City Hall:
Curt Ritter
(212) 788-2971

Housing Preservation and Development
Carol Abrams
(212) 863-5176

Innovations in American Govt. Program
Ellen Dadisman
(202) 467-6600


Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Program turns around Neighborhoods

New York City's housing and community revitalization program won a 1999 "Innovations in American Government Award" today from the Ford Foundation. The program will receive a $100,000 award and recognition as one of the nation's best examples of government performance. This award, which is one of the most prestigious public-service awards in the country, recognizes unique, original and effective government initiatives. 1,600 programs applied; 10 were selected.

The winning program is the Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Program (NEP) which was created by Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani in 1994 to accelerate the sale and rehabilitation of City-owned buildings and enable neighborhood-based property managers to own and manage clusters of City-owned buildings. By focusing on small, locally-based entrepreneurs, this program expands the capacity of neighborhood businesses, creates long term ownership and management, and reverses the cycle of absentee landlords and disinvestment. NEP, sponsored jointly by the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the New York City Housing Partnership, also ensures long term affordability for existing tenants and rents vacant units at moderate or market rates, encouraging mixed income housing.

NEP's record of success:

  • Winner of the "1999 Best Practices Award" from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). After receiving more than 3,000 nominations, HUD designated NEP as one of the "best of the best" local housing programs.
  • Renovated 2,000 units of high-quality, affordable housing.
  • Helped reduce the City's inventory of properties by 50 percent between 1994 and 1999.
  • Saved the City millions of dollars necessary to acquire, maintain and manage its inventory of properties - an estimated $2.2 million per building.
  • Reduced the time buildings remain in City ownership from 6 years to 1.5 years.
  • Stimulated the investment of nearly $230 million in private financing in disadvantaged neighborhoods

After the massive residential real estate disinvestment and abandonment of the 1960s and 1970s, New York City owned 44,033 occupied and vacant apartments by 1994, most of which were in some form of disrepair or abandonment. Facing an estimated cost of $10.6 billion to manage, maintain, and prepare the buildings for sale to private owners, the City undertook an ambitious initiative to return these buildings to responsible private ownership.

One of these initiatives was called the Neighborhood Entrepreneurs Program.

This innovative program targets clusters of City-owned buildings for renovation. NYC's Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the New York City Housing Partnership work with community leaders, businesspeople, and banks to identify potential buyers who are locally-based and can successfully return the buildings to private ownership, get them fixed up and back in service. Though some of the renovated units are available at market rates, the City has used the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit, Federal HOME grants, and City capital to prevent displacement of current residents and promote mixed-income housing.

One of the most successful projects NEP has taken on is West 140th Street in Harlem where a combination of government subsidies and $12 million in private financing going to local entrepreneurs are rehabilitating 12 buildings on what was described in press accounts as the City's worst block. Three years since the program's inception, the block is one of the safest in the area according to City officials. New businesses, including bank branches and a restaurant, have opened, a nearby neighborhood that was beginning to decline has stabilized, and an additional seven buildings containing 116 apartments are currently slated for redevelopment in the same neighborhood.

"The City of New York is extraordinarily proud of this honor as a winner of the Innovations in American Government Award," said Mayor Rudolph W. Giuliani. "The recognition proves that public initiative combined with private sector resources lead to new, better and more efficient methods of governing."

"NEP allows the City to both maintain affordable housing for New Yorkers and increase local investment in the community," said Richard T. Roberts, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development. "The unique component of NEP is its focus on small owners who have a commitment to their neighborhood."

The competition is rigorous. Beginning in January, 1,600 applications were received by Harvard University's John F. Kennedy School of Government, which administers the Innovations Program. Each program application is evaluated according to four selection criteria: they must be novel, be effective, solve a significant problem, and be replicable by other government entities.

"New York entrepreneurs are showing other cities creative ways to rebuild their most neglected neighborhoods," said David Gergen, chairman of the National Selection Committee.

HPD's mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers. The department is the nation's largest municipal housing development agency. Since Fiscal Year 1994, the agency has completed the construction or rehabilitation of nearly 58,000 units of affordable housing.

The New York City Housing Partnership works to promote development of affordable housing, revitalization of neighborhoods, and expanded participation by local residents and entrepreneurs in the economic benefits of community development. The Housing Partnership was established in 1982 by the City's premier business and civic organization, the New York City Partnership.

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