(Brooklyn, NY) - January 4, 2005 - One hundred and eleven low-income families in four East Harlem buildings had a huge win when HUD foreclosed on the prior owner and then worked with the community group ACORN, and it's development arm the New York ACORN Housing Company, and HPD to insure that the buildings would be renovated for permanent affordable housing.
The struggle for the tenants of 424-436 East 117th, 444-448 East 117th, 222-228 East 119th and 234-236 East 119th Streets has been a long one. For four years ACORN members in the buildings led a fight to preserve this invaluable affordable housing resource. HUD and ACORN knew that the landlord's disregard for maintaining and providing even basic services for the buildings and its occupants had to be addressed. The tenants organized with ACORN and successfully worked with HUD to begin foreclosure action against this prior landlord. In spite of the fact that residents had lived in buildings with no heat, bad elevators and hundreds of other repair and safety issues in the buildings, HUD and ACORN worked to get significant repairs made and to stabilize the day-to-day management as the buildings wound their way through bankruptcy court.
"Preserving buildings for another generation of New Yorkers is at the heart of Mayor Bloomberg's housing plan," said Commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development Shaun Donovan. "It is precedent-setting for the City's housing agency to work with the federal government and a not-for-profit in this way to both ensure necessary rehabilitation work for the buildings and plan for permanent affordability for low-income residents. It's a win for the tenants and a win for the City."
HUD, following their statutory procedures put a bid package out for the property in October 2004. Hundreds of private investors and developers visited the site and many showed up at the auction held at State Supreme Court in Manhattan on December 14th.
HUD bid in the value of their mortgage and the value of repairs that they had done on the property. Their $17 million bid turned out to be the winning bid. The building were ultimately transferred to the not for profit New York ACORN Housing Company. The buildings, which include 111 units of low income housing, will now be rehabilitated. The residents will participate and be involved. The low income affordability that HUD requires, that the City works for and that is the tenet of ACORN and it's housing work will be assured into the indefinite future.
Tenants were pleased that their organizing paid off. "I'm very happy that we were able to stay in our apartments and keep them affordable," said Carlos Abea, a long-time tenant and member of ACORN. "We fought hard, and now we can concentrate on improving conditions in our building and our neighborhood."