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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Monday, May 3, 2010

Eric Bederman (HPD) (212) 863-5176
Rebecca Regal (CPC Resources); (212) 575-4545


HPD COMMISSIONER CESTERO AND HDC PRESIDENT JAHR CELEBRATE NYC AFFORDABLE HOUSING DAY WITH EVENTS IN ALL FIVE BOROUGHS

BROOKLYN: HONOR THE RIVERDALE OSBORN TOWERS COMMUNITY ON CITYWIDE AFFORDABLE HOUSING DAY FOR ITS $39 MILLION TRANSFORMATION

City’s Housing Program Celebrates Financing 100,000 Units – and Counting

Brooklyn, May 3, 2010 – As part of the citywide Affordable Housing Day, a celebration of notable affordable projects in each borough and reaching the important milestone of funding the creation or preservation of 100,000 affordable homes, CPC Resources (CPCR), Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation (CCPOP), East Brooklyn Congregations (EBC) and community residents were joined by NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero and NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC) President Marc Jahr and other housing officials to celebrate the preservation and renovation of Riverdale Osborn Towers as affordable housing for families.  Also attending were Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz, and City Councilmember Charles Barron. Located in Brownsville, Brooklyn, this complex of four, nine-story buildings with 523 affordable apartments for low-income families underwent a $39 million rehabilitation designed to preserve this affordable housing for the foreseeable future.

“Over the past decades, Brownsville has experienced dramatic change; much of it devastating,” said Commissioner Cestero. “We are here today to celebrate a bright future. The resurgence of Brownsville as a community that feels again like a neighborhood is not accidental. It is because of the determination of the residents who stuck it out through financial crises, crime, a plague of drugs and civil unrest that we are here today. We would not have reached this plateau of funding the creation or preservation of 100,000 affordable homes without you. Looking at these four buildings and knowing that nearly 530 homes have been saved through your tenacity and our investments of time and money—and then being able to see, right up and down the block buildings that represent a true neighborhood revival—reminds me why I am in this business.”

As part of the day-long celebration marking the financing of the 100,000th unit of affordable housing under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP), housing officials toured New York City, recognizing several affordable developments that underscore the efforts being made by the City of New York and its neighborhood partners expand the City’s supply of affordable housing. Riverdale Osborne was to represent the borough of Brooklyn as an example of how public-private partners can rally together for the successful preservation of affordable housing. In Brooklyn alone, 24,129 units have been financed since 2004 under the Mayor’s New Housing Marketplace Plan.

The NHMP, launched in 2003, was first envisioned as a five-year plan to finance the construction or preservation of 65,000 affordable homes for New Yorkers with a range of incomes and diverse needs. In early 2006 the plan—already viewed as the most ambitious and aggressive in the nation— was expanded to its current form: to enable the creation or preservation 165,000 affordable units by 2014. Since October, 2008 when the global recession began, HPD and HDC have continued to leverage the public and private funding necessary to begin work on nearly 17,000 additional units, outstripping any other city or state effort in the nation and reaching the 100,000 unit benchmark.

Assemblyman Vito J. Lopez, Chair of the New York State Assembly Housing Committee, said, “Mayor Bloomberg and HPD Commissioner Rafael Cestero can be proud of the city’s commitment to building affordable housing. One of the Mayor’s more significant legacies will be the time and financial support he has dedicated to this goal, which is clearly demonstrated as we celebrate the 100,000th unit today. I salute his efforts to provide quality, affordable housing for all of the residents of New York City.” 

"The Riverdale Osborn Towers is a prime example of how public-private partnerships can help the city in its effort to preserve affordable housing for our residents," stated Council Member Erik Martin Dilan, Chair of the Housing and Buildings Committee. I commend the Mayor, HPD and HDC for their preservation efforts and for reaching the financing of the 100,000th affordable housing unit. If the city is to meet the ambitious goals set forth in the New Housing Marketplace Plan, it must continue to explore these types of partnerships.”

Michael Lappin, president and CEO of CPC Resources and The Community Preservation Corporation, said, “The success of Riverdale Osborne Towers is in a large part due to the special partnership CPCR has with the Diocese of Brooklyn and Queens and the Archdiocese of New York.  Together, our organizations are embarking on a multi-year program to redevelop more than 50 properties into thousands of units of affordable housing.   We are honored to have been chosen by the City of New York as an example of quality responsible development and hope this project will serve as a model for how we can work together to provide quality, affordable housing to New York’s low-income families.”   

“I congratulate the tenants of Riverdale Osborne, CPC Resources, John Lankenau and Demetrious Moragianis for making this celebration possible. In working together to preserve these homes, you have acted to strengthen this neighborhood,” said HDC President Marc Jahr. “These acts have a ripple effect. Starting with the genesis of Nehemiah and continuing with the construction of 550 Watkins – with financing by HDC – these streets have come back to life. Throughout Brownsville and East New York, we’ve worked with HPD and collaborated with both for-profit and nonprofit developers, like East Brooklyn Churches and CPC to rebuild the community.  And, when you add it all up, on streets like these, on Malta and New Lots and Sheffield and Pennsylvania, in East New York, in Brownsville, since 2004 under the Mayor’s plan, HDC has financed over 880 affordable housing units with over $81 million in bond financing as well as over $26 million in inexpensive subsidy from our corporate reserves. In total, over a $100 million in financing. And when we celebrate financing 100,000 units, this is what we’re talking about and this is what is worth celebrating—stronger communities made of safe and quality housing for new Yorkers like you.”

For more than a decade, Riverdale Osborne Towers, located at 440 Watkins Street, was plagued with poor management, causing the buildings to eventually fall into disrepair. The tenants endured awful living conditions, which included rodents, gaping ceiling holes that caused apartment flooding when it rained, dangerous gas leaks, non-flushing toilets, waves of crime, rotting walls and trash pile ups.  One of the worst issues was non-working elevators, which especially impacted individuals in wheelchairs or mothers with heavy strollers, forcing them to take a working elevator in another building and walk to their own building across the roof and down several flights of stairs, which was unsafe and unguarded against potential crime. Over the years, Riverdale Osborne Towers racked up hundreds of violations from The NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD).

Recognizing that something had to be done, Catholic Charities interceded in 2005.  After reviewing the overall situation and developing a long-term strategy to preserve affordability, they selected CPCR to re-develop the site and oversee the renovations.  East Brooklyn Congregations (EBC), which has been responsible for the transformation of many vacant blocks in the East Brooklyn community through its Nehemiah Plan, played an integral part in making sure changes were made at Riverdale Osborne.  EBC, who had offices on the property, recognized the poor conditions the families were living in and helped tenants to organize, fight for their rights and work with Catholic Charities and CPCR to make sure new management fixed the problems plaguing the building.

Jacqueline Melendez, an EBC tenant leader and resident of a ninth floor apartment said, "100,000 is a wonderful number.  But that's what it is -- a number.  Think of 100,000 people like me -- Jackie Melendez -- who used to be a tenant of what was once a slum building and now lives in an improved and renovated development thanks to CPC, EBC, and the City of New York.  Think of my daughter and husband too.   So that 100,000 really means that 300,000 or 400,000 New Yorkers have benefited from the housing strategy of the City.  This is not something that should slow down or stall.  This is all about momentum, forward motion.  Let's keep building and improving our wonderful boroughs and city."

“We want to give the mayor and HPD credit for the most aggressive and most persistent strategy on housing in the country and we and CPC have always been part of it,” remarked Revered David K. Brawley, East Brooklyn Congregations.   “This is an example of forward motion that was hardly imaginable in the bad old days of near-bankruptcy, self dealing politicians, and decline that haunted the city in the 1970's and into the 1980's. Today, not only are good things happening but great things are happening in this City as shown by where we are standing today.  Today, we see 543 rental units bought and renovated by CPC and these units could not have been preserved without the great EBC leaders who organized so long and hard for change. And if we took a short walk, you would see the rest of a new Brooklyn that has materialized because East Brooklyn Congregations along with the Community Preservation Corporation have worked closely with HPD and HDC to make it happen - 3000 homes built already, 1500 in production, along with 200 apartments and a foreclosure rate of nearly zero. This great success is an example of what happens when various levels of government are working together with groups like ours to make them happen.”

Thanks to the involvement of Senator Charles Schumer, a vital partner in this project, Riverdale Osborne Towers secured the approval of over $36 million in city tax credits and loans, for a total development cost of $39 million that were very close to expiring in late 2007.  Successfully, Senator Schumer persuaded Housing and Urban Development officials to approve city allocations just days before a December 31st deadline.     

Financing for the renovations came from a $19.4 million CPC construction loan and a $4.99 million PLP loan from HPD.  Financing will also include $12.1 million in equity raised through the sale of 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credits allocated by HPD and $2.5 million in additional equity provided by Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.  A permanent loan will be provided by the NYCERS Pension Fund with SONYMA insurance.

“HUD is delighted to have been a partner in the rebirth of Riverdale Osborne,” said JoAnna Aniello, Deputy Regional Director for NY/NJ.  “HUD has no higher mission than providing decent, safe and affordable housing to our citizens, and this wonderful partnership among, HUD, HPD, Progress of Peoples, Catholic Charities, CPC and Enterprise demonstrate what public-private partnerships can achieve in improving peoples’ lives.” 

“Mayor Bloomberg has done an inspiring job of bringing public and private partners together to ensure that the New Housing Marketplace Plan stays on track. With the completion of the 100,000th New Housing Marketplace Plan unit, New York City is 100,000 steps closer to making housing affordable for all New Yorkers,” said Abby Jo Sigal, Vice President and New York Director, Enterprise Community Partners, Inc. “We applaud Mayor Bloomberg, HPD, HDC, and the City of New York on achieving this milestone.  We also congratulate all of the affordable housing partners, including our partner in the Riverdale Osborne Towers, CPC Resources and Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation, for their incredible efforts to provide thousands of New Yorkers an affordable place to call home.”

Monsignor Alfred LoPinto, Vicar for Human Services, Diocese of Brooklyn, said “Catholic Charities is delighted with the wonderful transformation at Riverdale Osborne.  Through this project, we have brought positive changes to the lives of Riverdale Osborne tenants and rebuilt a vital part of the Brownsville community.  We are pleased to be a part of this transformative event.  

CPCR proposed a financial structure to preserve the property as affordable housing and tapped proven, “hands on” partners and property managers Demetrios Moragianis and John Lankenau to help transform the property into quality housing for the more than 1,500 residents who live there. 

Renovations included the installation of all new windows in all apartments, two new roofs, three new boilers, replacement of all 8 elevators, new kitchens in every unit, ceramic tile in the hallways, two new state-of-the-art gas-fired furnaces for heat & hot water, replacement of exterior parapet and deteriorating brick work and a new intercom system.  Security cameras were installed and security guards were hired to patrol the grounds.  New gates and new apartment entry doors were installed.  A new lobby entrance and management office were created to further enhance security. 

In a statement, Mr. Moragianis and Mr. Lankenau said, “Keeping it simple: The storm has been calmed.  Our vision for a better tomorrow for the residents at Riverdale/Osborne Towers that for years have endured both sub-standard living conditions and safety risks was our driving force to help bring about the change we have today.  Our biggest joy is seeing so many people walking around with smiles on their faces – it says it all.”

Francis J. Murray, president and CEO of NYSERDA said:  "NYSERDA is proud to participate in a public-private partnership working to create New York City housing that is not only affordable but energy efficient.  The leadership at Riverdale should be commended for their initiative to incorporate energy measures into the construction plan NYSERDA has been pleased to work with building owners and developers throughout New York City that have used our Multifamily Performance Program to not only help reduce their costs, but to save energy and create a healthy environment for residents."

 

Other major housing developments in Brownsville and East New York include:

The Nehemiah homes built in the 1980’s and the new Nehemiah homes.

Under the Brooklyn Nehemiah Program, HPD has worked with East Brooklyn Churches (EBC), a consortium of over thirty congregations, over the past 15 years to construct nearly 3,000 single-family homes in the East New York and Brownsville sections of Brooklyn. HPD provides subsidies to keep the homes affordable.  The Nehemiah at Gateway Project will be constructed on undeveloped vacant land in a new neighborhood, Gateway Estates, near Spring Creek in the East New York section of Brooklyn. The developer is Nehemiah Housing Development Company, a housing affiliate for EBC.

The Plaza Residences (formerly Noble Drew Ali Houses). 

For years Noble Drew Ali Plaza had been known citywide as a crime-ridden housing complex suffering from neglect and plagued with drug activity and squatters. HPD’s Narcotics Control Unit has worked with the NYPD and the Office of Special Narcotics Prosecutor to improve the quality of life at Noble Drew Ali by decreasing on-site criminal activity through ongoing strategic investigations. These efforts culminated in 35 arrests. The acquisition and rehabilitation of the Noble Drew Ali Plaza by ONMI New York LLC, with financing provided by HDP and HDC,  has resulted in the preservation and improvement of 385 affordable housing units for low-income New Yorkers.

550 Watkins Street

This is a 104-unit rental project under construction on a City-owned site just down the block from Riverdale Osborne.  The project is being developed through a partnership controlled by CPC Resources, Inc (CPCR) and EBC.  Construction is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2010.

To celebrate NYC Affordable Housing Day and the 100,000 unit benchmark, HPD Commissioner Cestero and HDC President Jahr participated in an event in each of the five boroughs designed to highlight the diverse programs in the NHMP and the different types of housing developed or preserved. They started the day at True Colors, a Supportive Housing project currently under construction at 269 W 154th St in Manhattan that is the first facility of its kind designed to house gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youths; and travelled from there to Via Verde. Subsequent events included a ribbon cutting at Big Six at 59-55 47th Ave, in Woodside Queens, a nearly 900-unit Mitchell-Lama co-operative that opted to commit to another 30 years of affordability in return for low-cost mortgage refinancing through the HDC Mitchell-Lama  Preservation Program; and a community celebration honoring developers, housing advocates and tenants in East New York and Brownsville, Brooklyn at Riverdale-Osborne (440 Watkins Street), a former HUD multifamily complex purchased and renovated by CPC Resources and John Lankenau and Demetrious Moragianis with funding from HPD, CPC, the NYS Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), and NYSERDA..  The final stop of the day was Markham Gardens, a newly constructed mixed income townhouse community with both rental and homeowner units built at 70 North Burgher Avenue on a site formerly owned by the New York City Housing Authority. # # # 

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan

New York City’s affordable housing program to build or preserve 165,000 units of housing — enough to house half a million New Yorkers — is the most ambitious and productive in the nation—creating housing as well as jobs for New Yorkers. In April, 2010 the City reached the critical benchmark of 100,000 units financed—representing an investment of $4.5 billion to date by the City, not including roughly $5 billion in bonds issued by HDC.

Led by HPD Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero, the Plan has been recast to maintain production momentum while confronting head on the economic challenges facing the City, the State, the housing industry, the financial sector and individual New Yorkers and their families. In order to fulfill the NHMP goal of 165,000 units, HPD and the NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC) are responding to market realities and focusing on three primary goals: strengthening neighborhoods, expanding the supply of affordable and sustainable housing and stabilizing families by keeping them in their homes. To read more about the NHMP, please visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/hpd/html/about/plan.shtml

NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD)

HPD’s mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers. It is the nation's largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Responsible for implementing Mayor Bloomberg's New Housing Marketplace Plan to build and preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing, HPD also actively promotes the preservation of affordable housing through education, outreach, loan programs and enforcement of housing quality standards.  For more information visit www.nyc.gov/hpd.

CPC Resources, Inc. (CPCR) is the for-profit development subsidiary of The Community Preservation Corporation (CPC), a not-for-profit mortgage lender that has financed more than $7 billion of affordable housing since its founding in 1974.  CPCR has developed or rehabilitated more than 136,000 units throughout New York State, including Parkchester Apartments in the Bronx, representing an investment of over $600 million in affordable housing. 

Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation

Since 1975, the Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation (CCPOP), the housing affiliate of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, has served as a catalyst for growth in neighborhoods throughout Brooklyn and Queens, seeking to transform not only vacant land and buildings, but the lives of individuals and families. In the past thirty-three years, CCPOP has completed nearly 3,000 units of housing including 2,090 units for low-income senior citizens, 480 units of family housing and 377 units of supportive housing for formerly homeless individuals. More important than these numbers, POP builds housing with a vital link to social services, instilling a sense of home, community and family to its residents.

East Brooklyn Congregations

East Brooklyn Congregations (EBC) is a broad-based, multi-racial, non-partisan, community organization made up of 32 members institutions (churches, schools and neighborhood associations), located primarily in the East New York, Brownsville, Bushwick, and Bedford Stuyvesant communities. EBC’s purpose is to help ordinary people from our member institutions to gain the power to win improvements on specific issues of importance to them and to improve the quality of life in Brooklyn. EBC’s victories include the construction of over 3,000 affordable homes, the founding of two small public high schools, and pushing the City to start many more, significant improvements in public safety, amongst many others.

Enterprise

Enterprise is a leading provider of the development capital and expertise it takes to create decent, affordable homes and rebuild communities. For more than 25 years, Enterprise has introduced neighborhood solutions through public-private partnerships with financial institutions, governments, community organizations and others that share our vision. Enterprise has raised and invested more than $10 billion in equity, grants and loans to help build or preserve more than a quarter million affordable rental and for-sale homes to create vital communities.  Enterprise is currently investing in communities at a rate of $1 billion a year.  In New York, Enterprise has housed nearly 100,000 men, women and children and developed nearly 30,000 affordable homes.  Visit www.enterprisecommunity.org and www.enterprisecommunity.com to learn more about Enterprise's efforts to build communities and opportunity. 




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