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PR- 193-10
May 3, 2010


Since Start of National Recession, New York City Has Financed More Affordable Units - Nearly 17,000 - than Any Other U.S. City or State

City Marks Historic 100,000-Unit Milestone with Groundbreakings and Ribbon Cuttings on Affordable Housing Developments in Each of the Five Boroughs Today

Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) Secretary Shaun Donovan, City Council Speaker Christine C. Quinn, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Robert C. Lieber, and Department of Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero today announced that the City has financed the preservation or construction of more than 100,000 affordable homes since 2003. The City is on track to reach the goal set forth in its New Housing Marketplace Plan - the creation and preservation of 165,000 affordable housing units for half a million New Yorkers by 2014. The City marked the milestone today with groundbreakings and ribbon cuttings on new affordable housing developments in each of the five boroughs. The Mayor made the announcement at a groundbreaking for Via Verde (Green Way), a $99 million mixed-income rental and homeownership development in the Bronxchester neighborhood of the South Bronx. The Mayor was joined at the announcement by Congressman Jose E. Serrano, Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr., State Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr., NYC Housing Development Corporation President Marc Jahr, City Planning Commission Chair Amanda Burden and the project developers, Jonathan Rose Companies President Jonathan F. P. Rose and Phipps Houses President and CEO Adam Weinstein.

"By achieving 100,000 affordable housing units, we are helping 100,000 New York City families live in - and contribute to - the greatest city in the world," said Mayor Bloomberg. "We view providing affordable housing opportunities to New Yorkers with diverse incomes and needs as fundamental to our City's long-term economic prosperity, and we have no intention of slowing down now. Since the start of the national recession, we have financed more affordable units - nearly 17,000 - than any other U.S. city or state. Our Administration is on track to build and preserve affordable housing for half a million New Yorkers by 2014, and we are as committed as ever to getting it done."

The City's New Housing Marketplace Plan, launched by the Bloomberg Administration 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 the nation's largest - was expanded to enable the creation or preservation of 165,000 affordable units by 2014. Since October 2008, during a period of historic economic turmoil, the City succeeded in securing the public and private funding necessary to begin work on nearly 17,000 additional units, exceeding all other U.S. cities and states and helping to reach the 100,000-unit milestone. To build or preserve 100,000 units, New York City has invested $4.5 billion, and the Housing Development Corporation has issued $5 billion in bonds. Of the more than 100,000 units financed to date, 33 percent were in Manhattan, the vast majority of which were in East and Central Harlem; 32 percent were in the Bronx, 23 percent were in Brooklyn, 11 percent were in Queens and a little more than one percent were on Staten Island. Of the total, 68 percent were rental units and 32 percent were homeownership units.

"Today we celebrate a historic milestone for affordable housing in New York, with the groundbreaking for Via Verde and more than 100,000 affordable homes built or preserved," said HUD Secretary Donovan. "Via Verde sets the standard for a 21st century way of designing and building affordable housing -competitively-awarded, and community driven-that has become a model for innovative federal housing policy under President Obama's leadership. Via Verde reflects a commitment to a new kind of sustainability - not just the environmental sustainability of green roofs and compact fluorescents but also the social and economic sustainability that can only result from housing with a mix of incomes and uses.  It reflects a commitment not only to investing in affordable rental housing and community development but also to leveraging other public and private dollars and bringing new partners to the table.  Congratulations to Mayor Bloomberg and his team on achieving this historic goal."

"This is a great day for New York," said Speaker Quinn. "One of the highest priorities of the City Council is to ensure that New Yorkers at all levels of income have access to housing they can afford. Today's groundbreaking will bring 100,000 units of affordable housing and create a strong and vibrant neighborhood where people will want to build a future for themselves and their families. I want to thank and congratulate Mayor Bloomberg, HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan, HPD Commissioner Cestero, and our private partners for delivering on the critically important issue of making it easier to find an affordable place to live in New York City."

"I am both honored and overjoyed beyond description that the groundbreaking for Via Verde - The Green Way is taking place in the district where I serve as State Senator," said Senator Ruben Diaz, Sr. "This project, the winner of the first juried competition of sustainable and affordable housing, is an endeavor that the Bronx has needed for a long time. I am deeply grateful to all our partners, federal, state and local government officials, and those from the business community, who worked so diligently for so long to make the dream a reality. I know this project will have a positive impact on the community, both now and for generations to come."

"New York City is leading the charge in the creation of affordable housing, and today we mark a critical milestone on our way toward developing and preserving 165,000 units of affordable housing," said Deputy Mayor Lieber. "By joining with the development and non-profit communities, we are transforming vacant lots into attractive places to live and raise a family."

"We owe thanks to our many partners who have worked along side us at HPD and HDC to achieve our goal of creating a more sustainable and affordable New York City," said Commissioner Cestero. "New York City has a proud tradition, going back many decades, in building and preserving affordable housing. We have set the standard and provided the model for making it work. Our affordable housing programs are designed to create development opportunities where there were none, to encourage long-term affordability, to promote neighborhood economic diversity and to leave a legacy of a more affordable and sustainable New York City."

"Today we celebrate this milestone in the growing vibrant community of the South Bronx," said Housing Development Corporation President Marc Jahr. "Together with our sister agency HPD and our other public and private partners we have worked and invested to create and preserve affordable homes throughout the five boroughs. It's been decades since the phrase "The Bronx in burning" was etched into our collective conscious. The fact the we are here today-in the midst of this growing new neighborhood to mark the beginning of construction for Via Verde-is testament to both the City's continuous effort to provide the infrastructure and funding to transform and rebuild neighborhoods and the vision of the long-time community residents who refused to let this community die."

"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, East Brooklyn Congregations and the City of New York," said East Brooklyn Congregations tenant leader Jacqueline Melendez, who lives in the newly renovated Riverdale-Osborne towers in Brownsville, Brooklyn. "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."

The $99 million Via Verde development in the South Bronx - a joint venture among the City, Jonathan Rose Companies and Phipps Housing Services - will supply 150 units of low-income rental housing and 71 affordable co-op units with retail, community and outdoor recreational space. At the heart of the project are a series of gardens that begin in the courtyard then spiral up through a series of green roofs. The project will be built on a vacant 1.5-acre site at East 156th Street and Brook Avenue, in walking distance of the 'Hub,' the South Bronx's main commercial and transportation center. The development will create more than 900 construction-related jobs.

New York City Housing Development Corporation and Housing Preservation and Development are providing more than $60 million for construction costs and future rent subsidies, the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal provided $32 million, and the remainder of the project is being paid for through a combination of private financing and funding from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA), the Borough President Diaz's Office and the City Council.

The complex includes three distinct building types: a 20-story tower at the north end of the site, six-to-12 story mid-rise buildings in the middle, and three-to-four story townhouses to the South. Rental units will be located in the tower and midrise buildings. They will be targeted to households with earnings of up to $46,080, $55,440 and $63,360.

Via Verde was the winning response to the New Housing New York Legacy competition, sponsored by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation & Development, the New York Chapter of the American Institute of Architects, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, and the Enterprise Foundation.  The New Housing New York Legacy Competition aims to promote affordable, sustainable, and mixed-income housing by using innovative design on a challenging site. Designed by Dattner Architects and Grimshaw Architects, Via Verde will be a new model of green affordable housing that prioritizes sustainable, healthy urban living. The developers aim to achieve LEED Gold and NYSERDA standards through the incorporation of a range of green design features.

"Via Verde integrates building, behavior and being," said Jonathan Rose Companies President Jonathan F.P. Rose, President, Jonathan Rose Companies. "Our goal was to go beyond developing just a green building, and create a green community, focusing on the quality of life of the families who will live in it. If we are to create vibrant denser cities, we need models that integrate housing and health, food and family, security and sociability, reflection and restoration as integrated systems. Via Verde is the next step in such integration."

"At the core of sustainable housing is housing that is affordable for the long-term," said Phipps Houses President and CEO Adam Weinstein. "That is also the heart of the Phipps Houses mission. Via Verde will provide affordable rental and coop apartments for the long term to New York's backbone: hard-working families across a range of household incomes. It will serve families most affected by the economic downturn, as well as those looking to be at the front of the wave of new housing market activity in the Bronx."

"Via Verde is the result of a process that began in 2004 with a design competition," said American Institute of Architects New York Chapter Executive Director Rick Bell. "AIANY is proud to have helped initiate this important project through the New Housing New York competition. Our central idea, then and now, is that affordable housing must be green and be built to the highest standards of design quality. With the start of construction, this replicable model demonstrates emphatically that design matters."

"Via Verde is a magnificent achievement in affordable housing," said New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal Commissioner Brian Lawlor. "The complex exceeds industry standards for environmentally responsible and energy-efficient design and demonstrates the benefits of public and private sector collaboration, with funding provided by both the City and State as well as private sector investors. Most importantly, Via Verde will provide low-income families and individuals with stability and homes they can be proud of. A special thanks and congratulations to Mayor Bloomberg and HPD for creating and preserving 100,000 units of affordable housing. That is truly an historic achievement."

"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," said NYSERDA President and CEO Francis J. Murray. "The leadership at Via Verde should be commended for their initiative to incorporate energy measures into the construction plan and achieve LEED certification. The Green Affordable Housing Program, a collaborative effort between NYSERDA and the Attorney General's Office also helped implement a number of green features in the building. 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."

To mark the 100,000-unit milestone, the City broke ground or cut the ribbon on affordable development sites in each of the five boroughs, highlighting the diverse programs of the New Housing Marketplace Plan and the different types of housing developed or preserved. Deputy Mayor Lieber, Housing Commissioner Cestero and HDC President Jahr started the day at True Colors, a supportive housing project currently under construction at West 154th Street in Manhattan - the first facility of its kind designed to house gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender youths; and travelled from there to Via Verde. They then attended a ribbon cutting at Big Six on 47th Avenue 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. The next stop was a community celebration honoring developers, housing advocates and tenants in East New York and Brownsville, Brooklyn at Riverdale-Osborne on Watkins Street, a former HUD multifamily complex purchased and renovated by CPC Resources, John Lenkenau and Demetrious Moragianis with funding from the City and State. 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.


Stu Loeser/Andrew Brent   (212) 788-2958

Catie Marshall/Eric Bederman   (Housing Development Corporation)
(212) 863-5176

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