CITY HALL – Speaker Christine C. Quinn, together with Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Shaun Donovan, Housing and Buildings Chair Erik Martin-Dilan, Finance Chair David Weprin, housing advocates and tenants, announced that the Council has secured $14 million in HPD’s Fiscal 2008 Capital budget to repair and preserve Federal Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) subsidized affordable housing. This funding will assist in the rehabilitation of approximately 500 housing units throughout the City.
Under the current polices of HUD, subsidized developments can be foreclosed on if a building falls into poor financial or physical condition. Foreclosure can be a positive step toward removing a building from the hands of an irresponsible landlord. However, if the building is purchased by another unscrupulous landlord, there is no guarantee that conditions will be improved or that units will be preserved as affordable.
“For most of the last century, subsidized housing gave many New Yorkers the chance they needed to get out of poverty,” said Speaker Quinn. “Today, as rents continue to rise, these units have become more and more valuable. If our city is going to continue to be a land of opportunity, we need to extend that opportunity to all New Yorkers, regardless of economic circumstance. I want to thank Commissioner Donovan and my Council colleagues for their commitment to preserving affordable housing.”
“Preservation of existing affordable housing, including HUD buildings, is a key component of Mayor Bloomberg’s $7.5 billion New Housing Marketplace Plan, to build and preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing over ten years, the largest municipal housing plan in the nation’s history,” said HPD Commissioner Donovan. “HPD has successfully rehabilitated tens of thousands of apartments that came into City ownership through tax foreclosure and we preserved them as affordable housing. Now, we can use those tools and that experience to repair and preserve HUD-foreclosed properties. This is only possible thanks to HUD Secretary Alphonso Jackson and Federal Housing Commissioner Brian Montgomery and their commitment to affordable housing preservation as well as the leadership and financial support from Speaker Quinn, Chairman Eric Martin-Dilan and their council colleagues.”
The threat of foreclosure may also lead owners to opt out of affordable housing programs. According to a report issued this February by the Center for an Urban Future, 2,000 units of HUD housing were slated for public auction between 2003 and 2005. In an era of skyrocketing rental prices, the loss of these units would signify a tragic reversal in the housing fortunes of the families affected.
Since 2004, a partnership comprising HPD, the City Council, HUD, and tenant advocates has been able to save 17 buildings consisting of over 2,100 units as a continued affordable housing resource that may have otherwise been lost through a public auction. The $14 million announced today represents a significant expansion of the program, enabling the City to develop viable preservation plans for buildings at risk of foreclosure.
Furthermore, this funding enhances the City’s ability to work with HUD on insuring the transfer of such properties to new responsible ownership. Restoring such housing to sound physical and financial condition means that they will continue to provide good homes, while remaining a critical resource in breaking the cycle of poverty for many low income New Yorkers.
“When HUD housing falls into disrepair, the answer shouldn’t be to auction off the property on the open market,” said Housing and Buildings Chair Eric Martin-Dilan. “What we need to do is rehabilitate these properties, find responsible owners for them, and keep them in the affordable housing stock. I want to thank Speaker Quinn, Commissioner Donovan and my colleagues in the Council for making such a large commitment to affordable housing.”
“Preserving and expanding our stock of affordable housing is of great importance to New York,” said Finance Chair David Weprin. “The continued success of our city depends on our ability to house residents from all walks of life. Thanks to the efforts of Speaker Quinn, Commissioner Donovan and my colleagues in the Council, the funding we are providing will help ensure that the dream of affordable housing remains a reality for many New Yorkers.”
Maggie Russell-Cairdi, Executive Director of NY State Tenants and Neighbors, and a member of the Partnership to Preserve Affordable Housing (PPAH), which works to preserve distress federally subsidized housing said, “The partnership would like to extend our sincerest appreciation to Speaker Christine Quinn and Chairman Erik Martin-Dilan for spearheading this initiative which will assist in the preservation of hundreds of units of affordable housing throughout NYC.”
Deloris Morris, Co-Chair of the Tenants Association at Gates Patchen, said “The funds we received from the City Council were crucial to advancing our preservation efforts. This new initiative will do the same for dozens of buildings just like Gates Patchen, where tenants are struggling to preserve and improve their homes.”
Dina Levy of the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB), which is also one of six organizations who comprise the Partnership to Preserve Affordable Housing, a coalition working to preserve distressed HUD housing, said “the Council’s funding initiative is absolutely key to preserving this badly needed housing stock. Thanks to the leadership of Speaker Quinn and Chairman Dilan, we anticipate the preservation of hundreds of affordable housing units around the city.”
The Council has previously partnered with HPD, tenants and advocates to save HUD buildings. In the summer of 2005, the Council provided $3 million to the Gates-Patchen apartment in Brooklyn. The funding was critical to carrying out the residents plan to rehabilitate their building and create a limited tenant-owned co-op, which kept the units affordable.