FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASECENTRAL HARLEM CELEBRATES THE OPENING OF 87 NEW UNITS OF AFFORDABLE HOUSING
August 12, 2003
Robin LeBaron, CATCH (646) 208-3152
NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Deputy Commissioner Kim Hardy and The Enterprise Foundation Director Rafael Cestero will join non-profit housing developers, housing professionals, and community residents at a ceremony on Tuesday, August 12th at 11:00 at 184 Bradhurst Avenue (just south of 151st Street) to celebrate the completion of renovation work at a cluster of six formerly city-owned buildings in Central Harlem. The buildings have been completely renovated, to provide high-quality rental housing to low- and moderate-income families.
The rehabilitation of these six buildings - 184, 226, and 230 Bradhurst Ave., 301 and 302 West 152nd Street, and 308 West 151st Street - marks the end of one phase in a larger effort to revitalize the Bradhurst Avenue area in Central Harlem. This initiative is being carried out by Community Assisted Tenant Controlled Housing, Inc. (CATCH), a city-wide non-profit organization, and its local partner, the Central Harlem Mutual Housing Association (CHMHA), with support from the City of New York's Department of Housing Preservation and Development and The Enterprise Foundation.
"For so long, I believed that there were only two choices for Harlem residents - either buy your own housing or, if you were unable to afford to do so, leave the neighborhood," said Marcia Evans, the president of the Central Harlem Mutual Housing Association. "Our mutual housing program allows our hard-working low and moderate income families to stay in our neighborhood and control our own housing."
The buildings, abandoned by private landlords and taken by the city in lieu of taxes, were rehabilitated through HPD's Neighborhood Redevelopment Program (NRP) with $8,160,608 of funding from the city. An additional $5,171,039 was provided by the Enterprise Foundation through the sale of Federal low-income housing tax credits.
HPD Deputy Commissioner Kim Hardy said, "Affordable housing is fundamental to the City's long term economic prosperity, and Mayor Bloomberg's housing strategy, The New Housing Marketplace: Creating Housing for the Next Generation will guide us towards securing that future."
Rafael E. Cestero, Director of New York City and Upstate New York at The Enterprise Foundation said: "The tax credit program allows us to use private sector investment to stretch scarce public dollars and provide benefits to those same investors, to our up-and-coming-neighborhoods, and to residents with limited housing options."
One of the best features of the project is that it allowed CATCH to redesign interior layouts. Years ago the buildings had been divided up into many small apartments with tiny rooms. The new, redesigned apartments are much larger, with spacious kitchens, bathroom, and bedrooms, and lots of shelf space.
The contrast between the condition of the buildings now and just one year ago is striking. At the start of construction last summer, one of the buildings, 301 West 152nd Street, was almost uninhabitable. Only ten of its 30 apartments were occupied; the others were filled with rubble, or had been taken over by pigeons.
The project sponsor, CATCH, is a citywide mutual housing association that takes ownership of distressed private and public sector properties, renovates them and then works with the residents to create local, resident controlled mutual housing associations that remain affiliated with CATCH. Currently, CATCH is working with 43 buildings containing more than 700 units of affordable housing in Washington Heights and Central Harlem in Manhattan, Morrisania and Highbridge in the Bronx, and Crown Heights in Brooklyn.
CATCH has been selected to renovate another seven buildings in Central Harlem through the city's Neighborhood Redevelopment Program. CATCH and the CHMHA are also initiating a project to rescue a number of troubled brownstone buildings in the Central Harlem area.
The Central Harlem MHA is CATCH's largest, resident-controlled MHA-affiliate and is developing into its own community development corporation, one of a very few such organizations that is controlled by the residents of the community served.
"Mutual housing is not for everyone and it is not for every neighborhood," said Carlton Collier, Vice President of CATCH. "But there is a reason why our must successful mutual housing effort is right here in Central Harlem. For mutual housing to work, residents must take control of the local effort and make it their own. We are both proud and pleased to be affiliated with the Central Harlem MHA residents."