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Coming home: ribbon cutting celebrates completion of East Village homeownership program

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), New York City Council Member Carlina Rivera and Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) joined community residents to celebrate the joyous return home of more than 20 households who are realizing the dream of homeownership in Manhattan’s East Village neighborhood. The project was financed through HPD’s Affordable Neighborhood Cooperative Program (ANCP), which selects qualified developers to rehabilitate distressed city-owned multifamily buildings in order to create affordable co-ops for low and moderate-income households.

The century-old tenements are located at 406-08 East 10th St., 533 East 11th St. and 656 East 12th St. in the East Village, a neighborhood that has experienced rampant price escalation and a lack of affordable housing options in recent years. AAFE and city officials have worked closely with residents in planning for the $22.3 million renovation. A total of 23 households, longtime residents of the formerly dilapidated buildings, were temporarily relocated during the two year construction project. An additional 21 apartments will be offered through a New York City affordable housing lottery, which is expected to launch in the coming weeks.

The existing residents attended homeownership training, and when the cooperative conversion is complete, they will purchase their brand new homes for $2,500 (or $250 if they income qualify).

“For more than 30 years, we have been working to preserve our Lower Manhattan neighborhoods as bastions of affordable housing,” said AAFE Executive Director Thomas Yu. “We are proud to have worked so closely with the residents of three buildings to ensure that they can continue to call the East Village/Lower East Side home. Creating equitable homeownership opportunities in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in New York City is never easy, but this project shows it can be done. Welcome home to all of the residents!”

Local Initiatives Support Corp. NYC (LISC NYC) provided a $9.6 million construction loan for the project. Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF) participated in extending the construction loan, with HPD providing $12.5 million in subsidy.

“Today is a testament to the City’s commitment to inclusive, thriving communities where families can find stable housing and invest in their futures. New Yorkers deserve housing stability in every neighborhood, including right in the East Village, where affordable housing can be hard to come by,” said HPD Commissioner Adolfo Carrión Jr. “We look forward to welcoming returning and new families to this wonderful new building, and we thank AAFE for their partnership in making this a reality.”

“Stable housing is a pillar of wellbeing, and I’m thrilled to join today’s ribbon cutting for a project that will both add and preserve affordable housing in our community. I’m proud of my work with AAFE and HPD to rehabilitate distressed buildings to create housing that is accessible for low- and moderate-income households, and to support small businesses in the neighborhood. This project will give the opportunity of home ownership to more than 20 households that have been longtime building residents, and will provide homes for more working families,” said Council Member Carlina Rivera (D-02).

“To end the ongoing housing crisis that’s exacerbating the racial wealth gap, we must deploy every tool and key among them is expanding homeownership opportunities for low and moderate income New Yorkers,”  said Valerie White, senior executive director, LISC NY.

“This transformation of turning once distressed homes into safe, affordable co-ops will give those who live there an opportunity to grow generational wealth.”

“We are pleased to be a part of this important affordable homeownership project that will provide 44 New Yorkers with a home in newly renovated apartments on the Lower East Side,” said Salvatore D’Avola, executive director of Restoring Communities Housing Development Fund Corporation.

“I have lived in my building for decades, all of my adult life,” said resident Rachel Breitman. “After so many years advocating for renovations and hoping they would one day happen, I am overjoyed to be back in my home and on the road to homeownership. I would like to thank the City and AAFE for fulfilling their promises to all of the residents in our buildings. It is a huge relief for all of us to know that we’ll be able to remain in the community we love for years to come.”

The gut renovation in the three buildings included asbestos and lead-based paint abatement, new roofs, new concrete foundation slabs and structural steel, new plumbing and electrical wiring, HVAC, security and fire safety systems and new windows. All of the kitchens were replaced with new cabinets, counters, fixtures and energy star appliances. There are completely new bathrooms in each unit. The buildings meet or exceed Enterprise Green Communities standards for energy efficiency. The project was designed by Urban Architectural Initiatives (UAI). The general contractor was A.A.D. Construction Corp.

The 21 apartments offered through an upcoming NYC housing lottery will be available to middle income households. Based on 2023 Area Median Income (AMI), annual household income for a family of 4 would be capped at $141,200. Studio, 1-bed, 2-bed and 3-bed would be available ranging in price from approximately $260,582 to $386,372. There are also three retail spaces within the project.

During renovations, the beloved Latin American restaurant, El Rinconito, relocated to a new space in the East Village. The owner, Pedro Rodriguez (also a resident in one of the buildings), plans to open a second location within the project, at 656 East 12th St. “As a tenant and future homeowner, as well as a small business owner, I am so excited to have been part of this amazing project,” said Rodriguez. “I am grateful for the opportunity to expand my restaurant with a second spot in the neighborhood.”

The facade of 656 East 12th St. will include a new mural, replacing the tribute mural to Jazz poet musician and author Gil Scott-Heron that formerly adorned one side of the building. The organizations overseeing the new artwork explained, “Galinsky Coaching, the Loisaida Center and L.E.S. CommUnity Concerns are delighted to unveil the latest addition to the Lower East Side: a vibrant mural paying homage to Puerto Rican freedom fighter and spiritual luminary, Pedro Albizu Campos. Positioned on the corner of Avenue C, this mural takes its place only a half a block away from the Campos Community Garden and poignantly, it casts its radiance directly opposite Campos Plaza. Conceived by Robert Galinsky (a building resident) and brought to life by the esteemed artist Danielle Mastrion, this artwork promises to be a stirring tribute to a revered figure.”

At construction loan closing, the properties were conveyed to Restoring Communities Housing Development Fund Corporation (“Restoring Communities”), an HPD-sponsored non-profit affiliate of Neighborhood Restore Housing Development Fund Corporation, which was the interim owner of the previously City-owned properties during construction. Additionally, Restoring Communities secured homebuyer assistance grants from the New York State Affordable Housing Corporation (“AHC”) and provided oversight of the rehabilitation and cooperative conversion process.

In 2017, AAFE successfully completed the first project under the Affordable Neighborhood Cooperative Program at 244 Elizabeth St. in Manhattan, creating 19 affordable co-op apartments. AAFE is currently in development for another ANCP project in the Chelsea neighborhood, a new construction project that will add 26 more affordable units for existing and new residents.

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and diverse, thriving neighborhoods for New Yorkers through loan and development programs for new affordable housing, preservation of the affordability of the existing housing stock, enforcement of housing quality standards, and educational programs for tenants and building owners. For full details visit nyc.gov/hpd and for regular updates on HPD news and services, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @NYCHousing.

Restoring Communities Housing Development Fund Corporation (“Restoring Communities”) is a nonprofit organization with extensive experience in creating affordable homeownership opportunities. Restoring Communities is an affiliate of Neighborhood Restore Housing Development Fund Corporation and has been a long-time partner with HPD in revitalizing New York City neighborhoods. Through its established partnerships with government, lenders and community partners, Restoring Communities and its affiliates have remained active in leading affordable housing programs by successfully acquiring, rehabilitating, and marketing distressed properties to low- and moderate- income households.

Asian Americans for Equality, celebrating its 50th anniversary this year, advances racial, social and economic justice for Asian Americans and other systematically disadvantaged communities. AAFE is a comprehensive community development organization that builds and manages affordable housing in Manhattan and Queens, provides an array of community services and offers low-interest loans and training to immigrant small business owners. AAFE has preserved/created more than 1,200 affordable apartments in the past three decades.


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