Yesterday construction crews broke ground on a new moderate-income senior apartment building in East New York. The Coretta Scott-King Senior Houses, which is being built on what was a vacant lot, will have 51 units. More than half of the funding for the $13.7 million project is coming from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development with the rest coming from the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development and various city funds. The Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council will provide services including medical and social security assistance. Residents will also be able to take exercise and educational classes as well as day trips and other outings. Units will be granted through a lottery to those who earn less than half of the area median income or $30,100 a year for an individual and preference will be given to those over 62 years old. Those who win spots in the building will pay no more than 30 percent of their income in rent.
HPD sent out a press release yesterday about its “list of 200 residential buildings that have been placed into the agency’s fourth round of the Alternative Enforcement Program (AEP). The AEP…is aimed at increasing the pressure on the owners of the City’s most distressed residential buildings to bring the properties up to code so that the residents are not forced to live in substandard and hazardous conditions.” Anyhow, Brooklyn had far and away the most buildings on the list (click through to see all the ones from Kings County) with a count of 99. The Bronx got dubious second-place honors with 70 properties; Manhattan had 23, Queens had seven, and S.I. had but one. To make the cut, a building has to meet crappiness criteria such as having “three or more open hazardous or immediately hazardous violations per unit issued in the past two years, and Emergency Repair Program (ERP) charges of $5,000 or more for the same time period to qualify. ERP charges are money owed by the owners to the City for repairs done by HPD to correct immediately hazardous violations that the owner failed to address. Residential buildings with between three and 20 units qualified if the building had five or more open hazardous or immediately hazardous violations per unit issued in the past two years, and emergency repair charges of $2,500 or more for the same time period. In this AEP round, the buildings with the highest ERP paid and unpaid in the last two years were selected.” The biggest of Brooklyn’s baddest in terms of number of units is 209 East 34th Street, pictured above, which has 70 apartments. Photo via PropertyShark.(more…)
While we’re not so sure about its constitutionality, a new bill to be proposed by the Bloomberg administration would give the city more power to take proactive measures to fix up derelict buildings whose landlords who fail conform to certain safety standards. Under the plan, HPD could go into a building with a minimum of 27 uncorrected code violations and redo everything from roofs to entire electrical systems and then stick the negligent landlords with the bill; if the owner didn’t pay up, the city would put a lien on the building. The goal is to restore the ailing portion of the housing stock at a time when demand for housing in the city has never been stronger; the goal is 200 buildings a year for five years. Sounds like a good move to us, though if they really wanted to fix the problem they’d get rid of all rent controls. City to Seek Broader Power Over Buildings [NY Times] Photo by humain
When you want to convert a house that has been used and classified by the city as a Single Room Occupance (SRO) dwelling, you have to go through a cumbersome process with the Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) designed to protect the rights of SRO residents. Unfortunately, as we found out first hand when we converted our house, despite its presumably good intentions, the process is marred by incompetent people and ridiculous bureaucratic hurdles.
HPD’s basic goal is to make sure that a tenant who’s been paying a couple of hundred bucks a month for a room for the last ten or twenty years isn’t booted out in the street. As the owner, you have to fill out a lengthy questionnaire with all the current and former residents’ names and known addresses (even if the house is empty, as ours was when we bought it). Then HPD is supposed to make an effort to contact all these people to make sure they weren’t forced out against their will. In our case, after this mail campaign came up clean, we were told over the phone that everything was fine and we should be getting our Certificate of No Harassment (CNH) within the week. When we called back three weeks later, we found out that HPD had decided to send someone out on foot to try to talk to all the former tenants, thus adding another month to the timeline. At some point in the process, an HPD inspector has to come inspect your house to make sure there are no signs of tenants still living there; at the time (back in late 2004), there was only one inspector for the five boroughs! (more…)