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NYC Department of Housing Preservation & Development

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Thursday, November 3, 2011

Eric Bederman (HPD) 212-863-5176


City of New York and Non-Profit Embark on Major Revitalization of Lower East Side Residence for the Deaf, Hard of Hearing and Low Income Seniors

New York City, November 3, 2011 – Today, F∙E∙G∙S Health and Human Services System was joined by Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer, Council Member Rosie Mendez, the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC), the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and UJA Federation of New York to celebrate the commencement of a major renovation of Tanya Towers, located on East 13th Street in the Lower East Side of Manhattan. Tanya Towers is a HUD-assisted New York City-supervised Mitchell-Lama development that is home to 138 low-income individuals, including deaf, hard of hearing and blind residents, senior citizens, and those with other disabilities. 

F∙E∙G∙S CEO Gail Magaliff said, “This building holds a special place in the history of services to the deaf and hard of hearing, and is home to a diverse population of residents with special needs. The renovation will enhance and sustain a positive living environment that will meet the needs of its residents for years to come.” 

The $4.4 million renovation is made possible through a $1 million capital grant from the New York City Council sponsored by Council Member Rosie Mendez and a $500,000 grant from the Office of Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer. An additional $2.9 million has been made available through financing arranged through the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC).  

Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer said, “In the citywide fight to preserve affordable housing for working New Yorkers, we must dedicate ourselves particularly to those living with disabilities and physical impairments. Tanya Towers represents the best of New York City; a place where our most vulnerable population can live with access to support services and community. I am proud to have played a role in the funding of new renovations that will sustain the use of this building and reduce its carbon footprint for decades to come.” 

City Council Member Rosie Mendez said, “We all have a responsibility to create and preserve affordable housing in New York City, particularly housing that serves our most vulnerable populations. I am proud to have been able to secure city funding for this project—one that ensures the disabled, mentally ill, hard of hearing and deaf communities have an enhanced quality of life and living environment.”  

The history of Tanya Towers began more than a century ago when the Hebrew Association of the Deaf (HAD) was formed in 1909. HAD fostered the need for a community where individuals who were deaf could “cope with the demands of industry, and develop the habits of self-appreciation and assuredness.”  HAD, with funding from the Federation of Jewish Philanthropies, now UJA-Federation of New York, established the New York Society for the Deaf (NYSD). Tanya Towers, named after Tanya Nash, who served as the Executive Director of NYSD for more than 35 years, opened its doors in 1973 in honor and recognition of her long and caring service to the deaf and hard of hearing community. In 2006, NYSD merged into F∙E∙G∙S, which assumed responsibilities for all of its programs, including Tanya Towers.  

Tanya Towers is being renovated under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP), a multi-billion dollar initiative to finance 165,000 units of affordable housing for half a million New Yorkers by the close of the 2014 fiscal year. To date, the plan has funded the creation or preservation of more than 125,300 units of affordable housing across the five boroughs, with 43,207 units in Manhattan, and more than 7,881 of those units in Manhattan Community Board 2 where Tanya Towers is located. Tanya Towers has 86 studio units, 51 one-bedroom units and one two-bedroom unit for the building superintendent. Thirty-six units in the building provide housing and other supports funded through the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH), and United Cerebral Palsy (UCP) leases 17 units with support from the New York State Office of People with Developmental Disabilities (OPWDD).  

“For decades, Tanya Towers has been a safe, stable and supportive home for people in need of special services and dedicated resources,” said HDC President Marc Jahr. “Viewed from the outside, Tanya Towers looks much like any other high rise apartment building, but when you cross the threshold, you can feel immediately that this is a special place; a community is thriving within these walls. We at HDC are proud to be a partner with F∙E∙G∙S, HPD, Councilmember Mendez and Borough President Stringer in preserving this irreplaceable resource for generations of tenants to come.” 

The renovation will include elevator modernization, boiler replacement, windows, concrete work and unit upgrades.  Improvements will also include facility modifications to address the special needs of the deaf and those with other disabilities, upgrades of the gardens and community spaces, as well as taking the necessary steps to “green” the building and achieve LEED certification.  

F∙E∙G∙S Executive Vice President Ira Machowsky said, “This project is an excellent example of the partnership between NYC government and a not-for-profit organization and how their collaborative efforts have helped to create high quality affordable housing for persons with disabilities and low income seniors.” 

Created in 1955, the Mitchell-Lama program provides affordable rental and cooperative housing to moderate and middle-income families. The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) supervises waiting lists, management issues, and has other oversight responsibilities for 78 Mitchell-Lama developments including Tanya Towers. 

HPD Commissioner Mathew Wambua said, “For people who have always had to work harder to keep up, Tanya Towers is a life changer and a life saver. Preserving and creating housing that is affordable and supportive and dedicated to one of this City’s most vulnerable populations is a critical goal under the Mayor’s housing plan. Special needs housing plays a key role in ensuring that these populations, including the elderly, people with disabilities and troubled youth, can benefit from a stable living environment that also offers social services.” 

Peg Moran, F∙E∙G∙S’s Senior Vice President for Residential and Housing Services said, “We are extremely proud to provide both high quality housing and onsite social services that meet the needs of the deaf and other residents at Tanya Towers.” All of F∙E∙G∙S’s staff at Tanya Towers are fluent in American Sign Language and most are deaf or hard-of-hearing.  

“Almost 40 years after it opened, Tanya Towers remains a hub and central resource for the deaf and hard of hearing community,” said Glenn Stelzer, F∙E∙G∙S’s Director of Tanya Towers and NYSD Housing Services 

Adolfo Carrión, Regional Administrator, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development said, “I am delighted to be a partner in ensuring that this community has decent and safe housing for those most vulnerable in our society.  I applaud F∙E∙G∙S, the Manhattan Borough President, the City Council, HPD and HDC for their unrelenting commitment and long-term investment in the preservation of quality affordable housing. ”  

Key supporters acknowledged at the groundbreaking included UJA-Federation of New York, for its ongoing support of this initiative and F∙E∙G∙S’s work on behalf of the deaf and hard of hearing community, and the NYS OMH and NYS OPWDD for their ongoing support of programs operating at the Tanya Towers residence. 

Tom Blumberg, President of the Tanya Towers, Inc. Board of Directors, Executive Committee Member of F∙E∙G∙S’s Board and a Trustee of UJA-Federation of New York said, “I am so proud to be here today and that F∙E∙G∙S was able to continue, expand, and now revitalize this unique and wonderful home, in the best tradition of F∙E∙G∙S and UJA-Federation.” 

TEK Architects designed the Tanya Towers renovation and Alexander Wolf & Son will perform the major renovation work at the residence. 

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 About F∙E∙G∙S & Tanya Towers, Inc.: F∙E∙G∙S, established in 1934, is one of the largest and most diversified health and human service organizations in the country, helping more than 114,000 New Yorkers annually to achieve greater success, independence and dignity at work, at school, at home and in the community. With an annual budget of $255 million and more than 4,000 staff, interns and volunteers, F∙E∙G∙S provides services in the areas of employment, education, youth and families, health and homecare, disabilities and housing. We bring together the best professionals, programs and resources, supported by the latest technology, to inspire success in individuals and families and strengthen communities. Tanya Towers, Inc. is a not-for-profit subsidiary of F∙E∙G∙S.  

About the NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC): The Housing Development Corporation (HDC) provides a variety of financing programs for the creation and preservation of multi-family affordable housing throughout New York City. In partnership with the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, HDC works to implement Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to finance the creation or preservation of 165,000 affordable housing units by the end of the 2014 fiscal year. The New York City Housing Development Corporation is rated AA by S&P and Aa2 by Moody’s. 

About the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD):

HPD is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers through education, outreach, loan and development programs and enforcement of housing quality standards. It is responsible for implementing Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to finance the construction or preservation of 165,000 units of affordable housing by 2014. Since the plan’s inception, more than 125,300 affordable homes have been created or preserved. (www.nyc.gov/hpd) 

About 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. Since the plan’s inception, more than 125,300 affordable homes have been created or preserved. 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.html 

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