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MHANY Wins 2013 Affordable Housing Award:

May 16, 2013

ANHD is pleased to announce that the Mutual Housing Association of New York (MHANY) Management is the winner of the 2013 Affordable Housing Development of the Year award for its project, Phoenix Estates. The award recognizes an nuts-and-bolts housing development done by a not-for-profit that has a major, positive impact on both the residents and neighborhood. The Phoenix Estates development highlights the ability of community-based, non-profit developers to take extremely challenging buildings and turn them into meaningful affordable housing assets for New York City's low income communities. A 125-unit, 100% project-based Section 8 development, in 2007 it went through foreclosure and the temporary loss of its Section 8 contract. The 125 families that called it home lived in terrible, virtually uninhabitable conditions and were confronted with the wholesale loss of their rental subsidy. However, working with Tenants & Neighbors, the tenants organized to preserve their homes and maintain the 125 units, 100% project-based Section 8 as an affordable housing resource critical to the neighborhood.  MHANY Management stepped in as lead developer, got the Section 8 contract reinstated, and secured a $20 million investment to rehabilitate the buildings, bringing them back into physical and financial health. This wasn't the first time residents had to organize to save their homes. During the 1980s, working with local organizations, the residents were successful in getting the project then known as Hunts Point 1 rehabilitated.  But by 2007 conditions had degraded so severely that the project became the subject of a Village Voice expose, and the tenants organized once again against the owner with accusations of gross mismanagement and graft. Tenants suffered through a complete dissolution of basic services - showers that were inoperable for months -and feared for their safety as the crime from the streets had easy access to tenants in their own homes.  The buildings were in such poor financial shape that HUD began to foreclose.  HUD and the original project funders acknowledged that although the buildings had been fully rehabilitated 20 years earlier, they required yet another major rehab to be livable again. The project's unique challenges added to the complexity of problems during the rehabilitation. The challenges started at the foreclosure auction in February 2008, where tenants and organizers wearing matching T-shirts waved signs to ward off predatory purchasers interested in picking up the properties on the cheap and de-commissioning the Section 8 contract. The strategy worked and a partnership of MHANY Management and South Bronx-based CDC Nos Quedamos was the successful bidder. However, the day after they took title in April 2008, the Section 8 contract was terminated due to degraded building conditions. Rent collections dropped from an average Section 8 rent of $900/unit/month to just the $100/unit/month tenant contribution. Additionally, 24 apartments were vacant and uninhabitable, further reducing the rent roll.  With the building hemorrhaging money and no capital funds available to begin making improvements, MHANY worked during the summer of 2008 to secure funding while making emergency repairs, installing security cameras and holding regular tenant meetings in an effort to keep the tenants afloat. In September 2008 the project closed on over $20  million in financing, and MHANY proceeded over the next two years to relocate families within the complex on a building-by-building basis to overhaul the internal building systems and make overdue apartment repairs. By 2011, the buildings were unrecognizable forms of their former selves, a full rehab completed with tenants relocated temporarily within the complex during construction. These buildings serve once again as a bastion of affordable, safe and secure housing for the community. ANHD is proud to be able to present this award for such an outstanding example of what affordable housing development is all about, is honor that MHANY Management has accepted this award for the 2013 Affordable Housing Development of the Year!
Blogger:  Moses Gates
Blog team:  Benjamin Dulchin, Moses Gates, Ericka Stallings, Jaime Weisberg, Barika Williams. Anne Troy, editor. 

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