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BACKGROUND

New York City Housing Authority Criticized in Comptroller’s Audit

News Report from Crains New York/ Wallstreet Journal June 24, 2015

 

NYCHA ‘sitting on’ more than 2,000 vacant apartments despite 270,000 New Yorkers on waiting list; Authority says vacancy rate is lowest in a decade.

While thousands of New Yorkers await public housing, hundreds of apartments stand empty pending repairs that can sometimes take years to complete, according to an audit released Wednesday.

City Comptroller Scott Stringer released the audit of the New York City Housing Authority at a news conference at the Raymond V. Ingersoll Houses in Brooklyn.

“Even though 270,000 New Yorkers are on the waiting list for housing, desperate to put a roof above their heads, we found that NYCHA is sitting on over 2,000 apartments they identify as vacant,” Mr. Stringer said.

The authority is the city’s largest landlord, with more than 400,000 New Yorkers in 328 public housing developments. A spokeswoman for the housing authority said its vacancy rate is currently at 1%, its lowest in a decade. The audit found 1,366 apartments are vacant for repairs, and another 976 are between tenants.

Mr. Stringer said 82 housing authority apartments have been vacant for at least three years, 79 for seven to 10 years, and 80 apartments have been empty for more than 10 years. One apartment has been vacant since 1994, he said.

“These are real apartments that could have been given to real New Yorkers who are in real need, and it’s shameful—totally unacceptable—that they’ve been empty for so long,” he said

Authority apartments taken off the market for repairs typically stay vacant for an average of 2,605 days, or more than seven years, Mr. Stringer said.

That translated into an estimated $8 million loss in rent for the authority during the period studied, between July 2012 and April 2015, he said.

A housing authority spokeswoman disputed that, noting the authority qualifies for rent compensation from the federal government because its vacancy rate is so low. But Mr. Stringer’s spokesman said the federal subsidy is good for only three years of vacancy and stood by the audit’s $8 million figure.

The audit also highlighted that some apartments remain vacant even after repairs are complete.

In one housing development, it found 58 apartments vacated for elevator repairs stayed empty for an average of 288 days after the elevator was fixed.

The audit drew attention to poor record-keeping of vacancies by the authority. Mr. Stringer said staff from his office visited 99 apartments listed as vacant and found 47 of them in use, some by squatters. Twenty-one of the apartments listed as vacant had been combined with others, while others were being used for community programs by city or private agencies.

“We have a housing crisis,” Mr. Stringer said. “People are desperate for homes. You cannot keep vacant apartments off the market for years and years with no explanation and no strategy to fix up those units.”

Copied from Wall Street Journal Report/ Crains New York Business Report

June 24, 2015

State of Homelessness in the Big Apple

Dec, 2013, NYC

 

The increasing statistics of homeless families in NYC is very disturbing, as announced by the US Department of Housing and Urban Development. Advocates for the homeless, including the Coalition for the Homeless, say that a total of 64,000 exist in NYC and that’s very significantly high since the great Depression.

 

While homelessness is a social issue, it is not as obviously disturbing as in the 70’s and 80’s when the Modern Era of homelessness begun to show in the streets in the form of panhandlers, mentally-ill and bag ladies. Today, homeless men are seen carrying more baggage.

 

However, as government and non-government organizations provided more shelters and better programs, homelessness and “street people” are not as visible as before. For homeless families with children, the situation is different. When they become homeless, they were moved to emergency shelters. It was the practice of the city to house them in “welfare-hotels”. Currently, these housing solutions evolved into transitional homes until they find permanent homes.

 

Homelessness is an issue that the government, the church and private not-for profit organizations should put their priorities on. These networks must continue to support food pantries and soup kitchens, transitional housing programs and social services and advocacy services. The solution, advocates and civic leaders say, is the creation of new rent-subsidy programs, a push for new housing geared to low and moderate income people and increasing minimum wage. Federal officials claim that the increase in homelessness is driven by a rise in families who can no longer pay their rent. This problem exists in cities like NY where there is a shortage of affordable housing.

 

Homelessness was presented in a very particular occasion in the Bible, when Jesus was born in a manger, because Joseph and Mary were strangers in Bethlehem. Similarly, NYC is a Melting Pot of people from all over the world finding home away from home. While the Covenant House, a catholic-run shelter for young people is the “best shelter” despite its 200-bed limit, The Coalition for the Homeless has a catholic background from its founder, Robert Hayes.

 

The Nursing Office. Org has developed Nurse-Driven Housing Solutions to help and advocate for the poor and homeless through its Gentle Hammers. These programs will not only help ease the homelessness issue but the unemployment problems as well, as it hope to create jobs for the people.

 

 

The Sky is the Roof over Their Head

Lived Experiences of Home Foreclosures Consequences on Physical and Mental Health

(Dr. Owusu Kizito’s New Book “Lived Experiences Of Home Foreclosures Consequences On Mental and Physical Health” Is A Researched Work On The Effect Of Home Foreclosures)

The rising rate of home foreclosures which stands at approximately 1 in 92 households in the United States has raised a national alarm. Medical issues account for approximately half of all home foreclosure filings and it appears that approximately 1.5 million American homeowners could lose their homes to foreclosure every year. The qualitative phenomenological study involved investigating the lived experiences of the consequences of home foreclosures on the physical and mental illness of northern New Jersey homeowners. The research questions asked included what were the lived experiences of physical and mental health decline following home foreclosure and how did the participant’s perceive their physical and mental health decline affected their family members? Four core themes were revealed from the study. The four themes included foreclosure process resulting in hospitalization of family and foreclosure associated with the lack of family’s health insurance, family health and the foreclosure process, and foreclosure and the negligence of doctor’s prescription, foreclosure as perceived loss of money and finally homeownership, displacement and housing instability as a reason for depression. The current phenomenological research study of the lived experiences of home foreclosures on twenty-five homeowners in the process of foreclosure has added to the body of knowledge because it highlighted the stressors, reasons, and causes. The study provides a framework for local practitioners and decision makers in identifying the consequences on the physical and mental health of the participants and their families and providing a workable foreclosure response system.

Link In Comment.. 6-24-2015

Dr. Kizi, Congratulations on your new book! I definitely agree on what and how foreclosures impact individual's physical and mental health and that these foreclosures and homelessness should be addressed not only as an individual issue but that which affect families and communities. I want to work on this premise as a guideline for The Nursing Office Gentle Hammers as a Nurse-Driven Housing Solutions. I want to apply these solutions in actuality and be of help not only to those who may be in danger of losing their homes but to those homeowners to be able to maintain home ownership and prevent foreclosures altogether.

Myrna D. Santos, RN

 

NURSE- DRIVEN HOUSING SOLUTIONS

Our Nurse Driven Housing Solutions are developed for both short and long term goals, bringing several programs together (HR Management, Social Services, etc. )  for collaborative solutions not only for housing but for relieving unemployment as well.

  • Advocacy for the Homeless
  • Service Assistance to the Homeless
  • Affordable Housing Programs
  • Assisted Home Living (in the Comfort of your own home)
  • Human Resource and Management
  • Property Management
  • Affordable Real Estate Services
  • Home Buying: Understanding Mortgage Terms
  • Housing Construction & Development
  • Training & Job Creation
  • Home Sharing
  • Home Ownership
  • Foreclosure Assistance
  • Energy Efficiency
  • Home Safety (Making Homes Safe)

 

2014

Construction

Industry

MARKET OUTLOOK

SURVEY

RESULTS

Read the results of the 2014 Construction Industry Market Outlook Survey, developed to collect information regarding current market dynamics and examine trends affecting the construction industry in the regional New York area to help construction companies plan for 2014.

 

http://www.grassicpas.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/05/2014-Survey-Results-Report-FINAL.pdf?utm_source=NCEO+Jolt+06%2F10%2F14&utm_campaign=NCEO+Jolt+06%2F10%2F14&utm_medium=email

GENTLE HAMMERS in ACTION

Offering Quality and Affordable Home Improvements
In search for affordable housing
Supporting Minority Immigrants in Construction
Dolly Deangkinay, RN volunteers at a Construction Site
Building Dreams for The Nursing Office with Kitty Lin

HOUSING In the NEWS

New Guidance: Ending Youth Homelessness Through a Coordinated Community Response, September 2015

The United States Interagency Council on Homelessness has set a national goal to prevent and end youth homelessness by the year 2020. This paper provides a preliminary vision for a coordinated community response to achieve this goal. The information draws upon proven strategies to end homelessness for other populations, along with ways to support the unique needs of unaccompanied youth and young adults. 

 For more information, visit:

https://peerta.acf.hhs.gov/content/new-guidance-ending-youth-homelessness-through-coordinated-community-response and https://www.usich.gov/goals/youth

 

 

Geeky Solutions for Affordable Housing

An expert in the nuts and bolts of affordable housing lays out wonky strategies that just might work

By Michael Lappin

New York City is beset with challenges in its affordable-housing policy. Efforts to upzone neighborhoods and mandate affordable units in those areas have been met with skepticism as residents fear that gentrification will outweigh any increased odds of obtaining a low-cost apartment.

Compounding this is the potential shrinking of the city's allocation of tax-exempt bonds, and HUD rules scheduled to be enacted next year that will, in many neighborhoods, reduce the value of the low-income tax credit for building affordable dwellings. Both programs are central to the city's affordable-housing strategy, and, in the words of one observer, calamitous if they are not rectified.

While the politics and policies of these issues are worked through, there are other opportunities independent of these programs that can supplement the building of affordable housing. Low interest rates, armies of small, low-cost builders, and a wide variety of residentially zoned vacant sites are all features of today's housing market. These can be coupled with a rich reservoir of public subsidies (typically in the form of 1% loans), plus real estate tax incentives (assuming the revised 421-a tax break is enacted without mandating artificially high construction wages) to create a broad menu to stimulate building.

Here are a few areas that might be explored:

Increase the use of private financing. Several projects in the pipeline expected to use bonding might work with conventional financing. Rates on midterm financing (10 to 15 years) are about 1.5% to 2% lower than the 30-year city or state tax-exempt housing bonds (about 6% cost to the project). The combination of lower conventional rates, lower closing and transactional costs, and 421-a tax incentives might make many of these projects suitable for private financing, thus freeing up some bond cap. The loss of the "4%" low-income tax credit proceeds, a component of the bonds, may be made up by using the city's low-interest loans (which are also used to supplement bond transactions).

Build on small sites. Many small sites now residentially zoned could, if developed, meet some affordable-housing needs and help loosen the city's housing market. Based on Department of Finance records, the Furman Center at NYU found about 500 vacant sites that have at least 6,000 square feet with a minimum of 60 feet of street frontage. These sites have an estimated potential buildable footage of 7 million to 10 million square feet. Underused institutional sites (religious properties, etc.) may substantially add to that inventory.

With ceilings on what the city would recognize as purchase prices, the city might offer an aggressive program combining low-interest loans and 421-a tax incentives with conventional funds to incentivize small, low-cost builders to develop these sites. Key to this would be creating a streamlined program accessible to small builders similar to the successful Koch-era vacant-building program. It could set affordability levels for initial renters and commit owners to keep all apartments in rent stabilization for the term of the subsidies: 30 years. The program must provide an opportunity for decent financial returns and not require overly restrictive regulatory agreements under the banner of permanent affordability.

Use publicly owned sites. A variation on the above theme might be used in Housing Authority sites or other city-owned property. Here, by varying the purchase prices of small sites, a combination of incomes might be served. By selling a site (or an equivalent ground lease) for the development of moderate-income housing (say for households averaging 120% of the area median income), the proceeds of the sale could be used to subsidize a similar project serving households with lower incomes. Thus, a self-funding program of mixed-income housing can be created.

Leverage real estate values. The continuing increase in value of many city locations may offer additional resources for affordable-housing development and other needed public goods. The recent sale of Peter Cooper and Stuyvesant Town for $5.3 billion arguably vastly increased the value of the development rights of nearby public land. What is the value of those unused rights of the Riis and Lillian Wald houses, located to the south of Stuy Town? Could they be monetized either through their use within their current zoning and/or in their transfer to eligible adjacent sites? Alternatively, could those rights be transferred to high-value receiving areas as is proposed in the Peter Cooper-Stuyvesant Town deal?

These approaches may increase the accessibility of affordable-housing programs to the broader real estate community as well as increase the resources available for such programs. This increased production capacity can be an important supplement to current city and state efforts.

Michael Lappin is a partner at MLappin & Associates and was CEO of the Community Preservation Corp. from 1980 to 2011.

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20151223/OPINION/151229973/geeky-solutions-for-affordable-housing#utm_medium=email&utm_source=cnyb-dailyalert&utm_campaign=cnyb-dailyalert-20151228

Cluster housing for homeless that are heavily scrutinized get $200 million from NYC 

Advocates for affordable housing hate it. The mayor’s own chief investigator called for it to be cut back. But so-called cluster housing for the homeless is about to get another $200 million from the de Blasio administration, which is proposing contracts that could run through 2024.

Cluster sites—privately owned apartments leased and overseen by shelter operators—are notorious for filthy and sometimes dangerous conditions, and critics say they exacerbate the housing crisis by sucking up mostly rent-regulated units for temporary use. Before he became the administration’s Human Resources Administration commissioner, Steven Banks said the city was “shooting itself in the foot” by housing homeless people in them.

Now the Department of Homeless Services has proposed four cluster housing contracts in the Bronx and Brooklyn totaling more than $200 million over four and a half years, with an option to extend them four more.

In March, the Department of Investigation issued a blistering report about odious conditions at cluster sites citywide, including at facilities run by two of the organizations soon to win new contracts, Acacia Network and Bushwick Economic Development Corp., known as BEDCO.

“At the time of the inspection, one elevator was broken and stuck on the sixth floor,” the report said of an Acacia site. “The other had a large puddle of urine on the floor.” It noted a broken window with glass strewn across the hallway of the facility for homeless families.

The poor conditions have been corrected, Acacia said in a statement.

The city paid $95 a night, on average, for the Acacia apartments—two to three times what market-rate tenants pay in those neighborhoods, according to the report from Department of Investigations Commissioner Mark Peters.

It cited BEDCO buildings for vermin and 56 outstanding fire, building and housing violations.

Peters recommended at the time that the agency move away from using cluster housing. Standards were higher at city-run, full-service shelters, DOI found, while cluster buildings “routinely ignore basic health and safety measures.”

A de Blasio administration spokesperson said some cluster sites were closed in the wake of the report, and that the new contracts will allow operators access to funding to make needed repairs and improvements. She added that the deals will also allow the city to hold the providers accountable.

In the past, City Comptroller Scott Stringer has held up contracts with owners of violation-riddled properties. Mayoral aides said Stringer’s action ensured that the sites would not be fixed up.

Cluster operators “don’t have the resources and the history and the background to deliver services of the same quality” as well-­established nonprofit shelter providers, said Josh Goldfein of Legal Aid’s Homeless Rights Project.

Advocates say they hope the new contracts will not be used in full. The agreements on the table include more than $69 million for BEDCO, $61 million for LCG Community Services, $48 million for Acacia and $29 million for CRF-Cluster Model Program.

“Hopefully they will move enough people out so that they won’t need clusters anymore, and will pay these providers significantly less than what is in these dollar amounts,” Goldfein said.

Giselle Routhier, policy director of Coalition for the Homeless, said the Homeless Services proposal “doesn’t bode well for the commitment” in the agency’s operational plan, released in March, to use fewer cluster sites.

“We think the solution is for the city to aggressively work to phase out the program and revert the units back to permanent housing for the homeless families currently residing there,” Routhier said.

But with record numbers of families in shelters and mounting public concern about street homelessness, the administration can’t afford to live up to those ideals just yet.

“In the short term, they have to keep using these places until they can bring the census down through move-outs,” said Goldfein.

The city has 3,079 units of cluster housing, down 1% from 2014. The administration said it had formed a repair squad that has cleared more than 10,000 violations, or 83%, at inspected shelters. 

Correction: The de Blasio administration spokesman cited in this article is female. An earlier version of this article misstated that fact.

A version of this article appears in the December 14, 2015, print issue of Crain's New York Business as "Scandal? What scandal?".

Mayor Bill de Blasio's housing push

They sounded like fighting words: "The city has for decades let developers write their own rules," Mayor Bill de Blasio said of residential builders in a speech last week. But developers are not the mayor's problem—they are his solution: He wants them to build 80,000 affordable and 160,000 market-rate homes by 2024. Big numbers for sure, even if they would merely keep pace with population gains.

 

Mr. de Blasio's rhetoric was not aimed at builders but at New Yorkers who fear them. He was telling people he is on their side, so when he supports projects where they live, they won't chain themselves to the bulldozers.

 

We wish him luck. Prejudice against development runs deep among too many city dwellers and cuts across races and classes. Despite the mayor's pontificating about inequality, many constituents believe his rezoning initiatives will price them out of their neighborhoods.

 

One resident even opposed a 100% affordable project in working-class Sunset Park, Brooklyn, complaining at a civic meeting that it "smells like gentrification," The New York Times reported.
In his speech last week, Mr. de Blasio blamed high housing costs on developers' "bias toward luxury housing," but he surely knows there was simply not enough housing built to meet rising demand as the city's quality of life improved. The supply-demand imbalance, not the construction of luxury units, caused housing costs to rise.

The mayor won't dare address the problem by asking Albany to end rent regulation, which perversely limits the overall supply of affordable housing, as economists on both the left and right will affirm. He won't even push to reform the program to relocate tenants who have more space or lower rents than they can justify. Such common-sense solutions are third rails in New York City politics.

He is left with one option to stem the rising cost of housing: Build much more. Only developers can do that, and only the private market can pay for it.

 

Mr. de Blasio's stated strategy—"adding density to appropriate parts of our city"—is solid. But can he execute? Community opposition is an obstacle; so is red tape, which the mayor vowed to reduce (a promise every mayor makes). Missteps are inevitable—in his speech, for example, Mr. de Blasio called for a massive affordable-housing complex over an active Queens rail yard, only to have Gov. Andrew Cuomo declare an hour later that the largely state-controlled site is "not available."

But our concern is that the mayor and City Council won't have the gumption to give New Yorkers the development they need when they protest it's something they don't want.

Crain’s New York/ Feb 6,2015

 

Rebuilding NYC after Hurricane Sandy

REPAIR & REBUILD NYC:
SANDY RECOVERY SYMPOSIUM II

 

February 27, 2014

 

Over 350 recovery staff and advocates shared best practices for disaster recovery,including NYC successes and challenges. Updates from government programs,VOAD organizations and partner programs and their practical applications were presented. The schedule was designed to allow participants to network and collaborate accross organizations for the benefit of Sandy Victims, to repair and rebuild NYC after Hurricane Sandy.

 

NYC:

City Architects pin hopes on the new deputy mayor

Jan, 2014

 

The choice of Goldman Sachs alum Alicia Glen to be Bill de Blasio's new deputy mayor for economic development and housing is getting the thumbs-up from the city's architectural sector—especially the addition of "housing" to her title.


"She's perfectly situated, with both the title and the mandate, to carry out the campaign promises of the de Blasio administration," said Rick Bell, executive director of the American Institute of Architects' New York chapter, in an interview with The Insider.


But Ms. Glen's task will be an uphill one, Mr. Bell said. And the new mayor's goal of creating and preserving 200,000 units of affordable housing will depend on her ability to streamline the approval of new construction projects, as well as better facilitate coordination between the various city agencies that oversee development.


Ms. Glen's blend of public and private sector experience will hopefully give her an edge, he said.

"Alicia will be identified with Goldman Sachs from the outset," Mr. Bell said, referring to Ms. Glen's present position as the head of the global investment bank's Urban Investment Group. "But let's not forget that she has a [Housing Preservation and Development] background, and she really knows how this stuff gets funded and built."


Mr. Bell's remarks come on the heels of the release of his group's first-ever mayoral platform, which was described as an effort to better engage the city's mayoral candidates on issues regarding planning, sustainability and housing.


And they didn't stop there. After Mr. de Blasio's election, the AIA's New York chapter teamed up with the Real Estate Board of New York, the National Resources Defense Council and the Urban Green Council to submit a list of names to Mr. de Blasio's transition team for potential government appointments. The list focused on six regulatory agencies that oversee what the archi-types call the city's "built environment": Buildings, Housing, Design and Construction, Citywide Administrative Services, City Planning, and Long-term Planning and Sustainability.


AIA also made additional recommendations for appointments to the departments of Transportation, Parks and Cultural Affairs, as well as the Landmarks Preservation Commission and Public Design Commission. And as part of its campaign platform, the organization suggested that a new "deputy mayor for design and construction" be created—although with Ms. Glen's recent appointment, it seems unlikely that Mr. de Blasio will see the need for such a position.

"We'll see where it goes," Mr. Bell said.


At the Dec. 23 event announcing her appointment, Ms. Glen said the de Blasio administration would turn away from many of the large-scale projects like Hudson Yards and Atlantic Yards that defined the Bloomberg era, and would focus on smaller, outer borough projects aimed at creating jobs for low-income communities. Jill Lerner, president of AIA New York, said that was a positive development, just as long as the new administration can get the various city agencies working in better coordination. She cited the Department of Building's electronic-filing hub as one such innovation that could be expanded under the next administration.


"Mayor Bloomberg took it very far," Ms. Lerner said. "And now Mayor de Blasio could take it even farther."

She added, "We think this deputy mayor position could be the person to help take that concept of different agencies working together to develop parts of New York—and if it's the development of affordable housing, something this city sorely needs, then that's terrific."

 

http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20131227/BLOGS04/131229935#utm_source=Daily%20Alert&utm_medium=alert-html&utm_campaign=Newsletters

NYC Council Committee on Land Use Named

Jan. 22, 2014


Committee chairmanships for the newly elected NY City Council on the coveted Land Use Committee, which approves development projects, went to Brooklyn Councilman David Greenfield.


"We look forward to working with Council Member Greenfield in his new role as Chair of the Council's Land Use Committee. We have every expectation that he will be diligent and fair in helping to focus the committee on the important issues facing the city, including creating more good jobs and housing for all New Yorkers," said Steven Spinola, president of the Real Estate Board of New York, in a statement. His organization led the industry's efforts last year to elect a pro-business council through a political action committee that spent more than $8 million.


The Land Use panel has veto power over the Department of City Planning's rezoning proposals. Mayor Bill de Blasio and Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito are promising big changes in development policy, most notably the implementation of a mandate forcing developers build to affordable housing in areas of the city that are rezoned. It's unclear whether Mr. de Blasio will be able to implement that policy unilaterally or if it must go through the council.


Queens Councilman Mark Weprin, who was one of the leading candidates for speaker, will continue to chair the subcommittee on Zoning and Franchises. Instead, the speaker formed a new committee focusing on "sustainability" in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.