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Keeping Neighborhoods Affordable: Mayor de Blasio and Local Officials Tour $70 Million, 28-Building Rehabilitation Project Underway in Harlem

March 14, 2016

Partnership with M/WBE firm will keep over 350 apartments affordable for low-income families for next 30 years

Tenants receiving new bathrooms and kitchens, upgrades to security, lighting and common areas

NEW YORK—Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Member Inez Dickens today visited a $70 million, 28-building rehabilitation project underway in Harlem. The massive affordable housing preservation project will repair apartments, improve the buildings and keep the rents of 358 apartments affordable to low-income families for the next 30 years.

"Tackling our city's affordability crisis means building more affordable housing than ever before, but it also requires rehabilitating and protecting the affordable housing we have now," said Mayor Bill de Blasio. "These upgrades and renovations to nearly 30 buildings here in Harlem, driven by a local M/WBE firm, are clear examples of the work we are doing to combat tenant displacement and ensure that people can work and live in a fairer, more affordable New York."

"Today's announcement by Mayor Bill de Blasio to have the City of New York partner with local M/WBE developer Karim Hutson of Genesis Companies in order to provide necessary rehabilitation work for over 300 families living in affordable apartments is a win-win for both our city's residents and for minority-owned businesses," said Council Member Inez E. Dickens. "Families living in affordable housing face a major challenge in having vital repair work done in their apartments. Whether it's a leak in their kitchen, mold in their bathroom or elevators that are consistently inconsistent, these families deserve better. The problem that prevents many of these repairs from being completed are the cost many owners face, whether private or non-profit. This agreement will allow families to finally have the quality work their hard earned dollars pay for, without the harm associated with Major Capital Improvement costs often associate with repair work. I am especially proud of the effort this administration has undertaken in awarding a local M/WBE to lead in the effort of improving the lives of families who live in the communities they themselves reside. Neighbor helping neighbor, this is how our City should be."

Aggressive preservation is a critical piece of the de Blasio administration's strategy to keep neighborhoods affordable, fight displacement and build new affordable housing at a record pace. Two other pieces of that approach, Mandatory Inclusionary Housing and Zoning for Quality and Affordability, are pending before the City Council. Those reforms have now been endorsed by dozens of organizations, including AARP, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the New York Urban League, labor unions composed of over half a million members, and the Real Affordability for All coalition.

The building visited by Mayor de Blasio is part of a 28-building, 358-apartment portfolio in Harlem that is being preserved and rehabilitated by Genesis Companies. Genesis is a Minority and Women-Owned Business Enterprise (M/WBE) developer that took the City's inaugural capacity-building workshop to promote the participation of M/WBEs in the development and management of affordable housing.

Genesis has entered into a regulatory agreement with HDC and HPD restricting rents to between $30,250 for an individual (50 percent AMI) and $36,300 for an individual (60 percent AMI) for 30 years from construction completion. There is also a 20 percent set-aside for formerly homeless tenants.

The project is utilizing a $10 million City investment, along with low-income housing tax credits and tax-exempt bonds, that has allowed for significant capital repairs and upgrades. The apartment renovations include new kitchens, new bathrooms, new roofs, new windows, intercom and camera systems, new entrances, energy efficient heating systems, exterior masonry repairs, and ADA compliance upgrades in selected apartments. Construction work is fully underway and is projected to be completed next year.

Protecting the affordability of existing affordable housing is a major component of Mayor de Blasio's Housing New York Plan. The City has made significant progress to date, preserving approximately 26,275 affordable homes in just the first two years – enough for 68,000 people.

Genesis was one of 28 firms to participate in the new Building Opportunity course launched last year by HPD and the Department of Small Business Services (SBS) to expand the capacity of M/WBE developers. Now in its second year, HPD has expanded on the success of the inaugural course to include nonprofit developers who are critical to developing the quality affordable housing that will strengthen our neighborhoods. One element of a comprehensive M/WBE initiative, the Building Opportunity program was designed to ensure that HPD is working with developers and contractors who have connections to the communities and are committed to promoting local hiring and helping to ensure that our projects are the catalyst for thriving neighborhoods.

"This project exemplifies the work we are doing through Housing New York to lock-in affordability across the city, providing stability and protection to existing tenants, while creating new affordable housing at record rates," said HPD Commissioner Vicki Been. "It also reflects the goals of our Building Opportunity initiative, which seeks to increase the participation of M/WBE developers who have deep ties to the community and share our commitment to strengthening the neighborhoods that we serve. My thanks to Genesis Companies, HDC and all of our private and non-profit partners for their role in creating a more affordable and equitable city."

"A central priority of Housing New York is preserving the existing stock of regulated housing and protecting the affordable homes and neighborhoods New Yorkers live in right now. This project greatly improves the quality of these 358 homes while maintaining their long-term affordability. I want to thank HPD, Genesis Companies, Citibank, National Equity Fund and all our partners for helping to ensure that the people who helped build their communities can stay in them for decades to come," said HDC President Gary Rodney.

"The Mayor's Housing New York plan not only creates and preserves affordable housing for New Yorkers, it also increases significant contracting opportunities for M/WBEs through City-sponsored affordable housing development work, like the Harlem rehabilitation project. Through the Building Opportunities program and our partnership with HPD, we will continue to strengthen the capacity of M/WBE developers like Genesis Companies to ensure that City contracting reflects the great diversity of New York City business owners," said Gregg Bishop, Commissioner of the Department of Small Business Services.

"New affordable housing construction alone won't solve our affordable housing crisis – preservation is a critical part of saving our neighborhoods," said Manhattan Borough President Gale A. Brewer. "This preservation project will save hundreds of apartments for Harlem residents."

"With soaring rent prices in the City, affordable housing is a number one priority for my constituents and New Yorkers. I thank Mayor de Blasio and Council Member Dickens for proactively seeking ways to keep families in our neighborhoods. This new project will not only help people live in their homes but also improve their quality of life," said Congressman Charles Rangel.

"The partnership between Genesis Companies and the City of New York is exactly the type of collaboration necessary to guide us out of the affordable housing crisis. Previously vacant or underutilized buildings in Harlem will be repurposed into safe, reliable and affordable homes for those who need it most. New Yorkers whose families have been here for decades – even centuries – are being forced out of their homes due to unprecedented rental costs. To maintain a City of diversity and inclusion, long-term solutions must be achieved. Dogged preservation of the affordable housing that exists, and innovative projects like these are effective solutions," said Assembly Member Keith L.T. Wright, Chair of the Committee on Housing.

"Thanks to this meaningful strategic investment from the City and other funding partners, Genesis Companies is able to preserve 358 units of affordable housing across 28 buildings for local Harlem residents whose units have needed significant repairs and work for years," said Karim Hutson, Founder and Managing Partner of Genesis Companies. "We thank Mayor de Blasio and his team for recognizing that Genesis is a local M/WBE that has the capacity to deliver on a project of this scale and size. This represents a new day in Harlem, where developers from the community are able to build and renovate projects in their community."

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