|This affordable housing development in West Farms Square is one |
of thousands that was financed this year by the city. (Photo: Jeanmarie Evelly)
Officials announced that the city is ahead of schedule in Mayor Bloomberg's New Housing Marketplace Plan, which aims to "create and preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing by the end of 2014."
The number of units financed in the last fiscal year, which ended June 30, puts the city three-quarters of the way towards hitting that goal number, a fact hailed by officials as a major accomplishment in light of the recession and the budget restraints of the last few years.
"This is an amazing feat," HPD Commissioner Mathew Wambua said of the 15,827 affordable housing units the city funded last year.
Among those are a set of eight high-rise apartment buildings along E. 178th Street in West Farms--known as the West Farms Square Plaza Apartments--which received millions of dollars in refinancing funds, in a deal between the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, city's HDC and HPD as well as two local housing developers, Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation and University Neighborhood Housing Program. The negotiations took over two years and were finalized in May.
The 526 apartments within the sprawling complex are now locked into "affordable" rents for the next 40 years, meaning rents that are no more than a third of a household's income. The buildings will also be completely rehabbed from the inside-out.
"These buildings that are 40 years old are finally being renovated, and the residents will essentially be getting brand new apartments," said Monsignor John Jenik, president of Fordham Bedford.
The buildings have gotten new elevators, and will get new boilers, hot water heaters and facades; four playgrounds will be built on the grounds. Individual apartments are getting renovated bathrooms, kitchens and windows. Construction is expected to finish in September of 2012.
Several speakers' at today's press conference alluded to how the area looked in the 1970s and 80s, when much of it was consumed by rubble and empty lots.
"The renovations are a debt being repaid to the families who have lived here," through the "bad old days" said John Garcia, who sits on the buildings' board. "The tenants who always believed that West Farms was a great place to live."
"We've been long waiting for this," one long-term resident remarked.