East Harlem El Barrio Community Land Trust, the City of New York and Partners Announce $13M Deal to Transform of 4 City-Owned Buildings in East and Central Harlem into Affordable Apartments

Rehabilitation work begins on four buildings under new CLT ownership that will ensure homes remain affordable and continued resident and community involvement

March 3, 2021 – The East Harlem El Barrio Community Land Trust (CLT) and Mutual Housing Association join the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), Council Member Diana Ayala, The Community Preservation Corporation (CPC), Enterprise Community Partners (Enterprise), Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association Inc, and the Community Assisted Tenant Controlled Housing Inc (CATCH) to announce the start of rehabilitation work on a $13.2 million project to convert 4 city-owned buildings in East and Central Harlem into affordable housing. The East Harlem El Barrio CLT, the first of its kind in decades, will own the land and steer the project, ensuring the development will serve the Harlem community.

Delivering on Mayor de Blasio’s commitment to explore new housing models, the East Harlem El Barrio CLT is the first to receive public land, capital financing, and startup support from the City in decades. Under the model, a board of tenants, community members and nonprofit leaders will oversee the building management and operate the development as an affordable rental mutual housing association project. The CLT will be committed to long-term affordable homes and community participation.

“East Harlem’s El Barrio CLT is helping us chart new territory when it comes to community-driven affordable housing development, while delivering long-term stability and affordability to East Harlem and its residents,” said HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll. “We are proud of all the great work that brought us to this milestone and are grateful to our partners at Enterprise, Banana Kelly, the Mutual Housing Association, CPC, and CATCH for their commitment to this project and the East Harlem community.”

“Banana Kelly is very excited to be involved in this game changing initiative,” said Hope Burgess, Banana Kelly’s President & CEO. “We are proud to be working with HPD, CPC, CATCH, Enterprise Community Partners, Councilmember Ayala and the residents of the East Harlem El Barrio CLT to establish a Community Land Trust that transforms the power dynamics with regards to land, allows for a larger degree of resident control of land and reduces the speculative nature of land ownership.”

“With the pandemic deepening the housing crisis, particularly in communities of color, preserving affordability and creating stability for our city’s tenants is more critical than ever. this project will help accomplish that goal by ensuring the local community will have a voice in the future of these properties, as well as helping to secure their permanent affordability,” said Rafael E. Cestero, President and CEO of The Community Preservation Corporation. “My thanks to our partners at Banana Kelly, HPD, Enterprise, CATCH, and Council Member Ayala for their support.”

“Closing on financing from HPD and the Community Preservation Corporation represents the culmination of eight years of research, outreach, planning, organizing, negotiation, and more meetings than I care to count.  But we did it,” said Harry DeRienzo, President Emeritus

Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association, Inc. and General Counsel Parodneck Foundation. “Building on the foundation laid by the outreach, research, and organizing of Picture the Homeless, and working in partnership with CATCH, the dedicated leaders of the community land trust, and the wonderful residents of the East and West Harlem buildings, rehabilitation is finally underway.  We look forward to completing this project, which will be operated under the control of a resident-led mutual housing association and governed by the city’s first official community land trust.” 

“Community ownership ensures that housing developments can effectively serve local residents,” said Elizabeth Zeldin, Director, Enterprise Community Partners. “Enterprise is excited to support this unique model of providing quality rental housing through a community land trust in partnership with affordable housing developers and community organizers in Harlem. A special thanks to all of the key partners for their crucial work to bring this important initiative to fruition.”

“CLTs are a critical part of the solution to our city’s affordability crisis,” said Council Member Diana Ayala, who represents District 8 in East Harlem and the South Bronx. “After supporting the development of the East Harlem El Barrio CLT, I am thrilled that we are finally announcing the transformation and transition of these properties to affordable units that allow for the preservation of community-controlled, deeply affordable housing in East Harlem for generations to come.”

Located at 53 East 110th Street, 201 East 120th Street, 204 West 121stStreet, and 304 East 126th Street, the project’s 36 rental apartments and three commercial spaces will undergo substantial renovation. Under the deal, the City provided a 40-year Article XI tax exemption, $7 million capital subsidy, and transferred land ownership to the community land trust. After renovations, the CLT will enter a 99-year ground lease with the mutual housing association with the rents for current residents set for a typical family of three earning $36,000. For the vacant apartments, rents will be affordable for a typical household of three earning up to $102,000.

The project is supported by several partners: Enterprise Community Partners awarded $500,000 to Banana Kelly in support of the CLT’s organization. Banana Kelly and CATCH will collaborate on training and working with tenants to support the mutual housing association’s operations. CPC provided a $5.2 million construction loan and a $5.8 million permanent loan through its partnership with the New York City Retirement Systems (NYCRS). The Office of City Council Member Diana Ayala provided support and the office of former City Council Member Melissa Mark-Viverito contributed $500,000.

Additionally, the apartment buildings will include homes for mobility and vision-impaired residents. Ten percent of units will serve formerly homeless households. The City also hopes to allocate additional Section 8 resources to enable a portion of the vacant homes to be affordable to the average family of three earning up to $51,000.

About The Community Preservation Corporation (CPC)

Established in 1974, CPC is a nonprofit affordable housing and community revitalization finance company that believes housing is central to transforming underserved neighborhoods into thriving and vibrant communities. The company, which currently carries an AA- issuer rating from S&P Global, provides a full suite of capital products through its construction lending, Agency lending, and equity investing platforms. Since its inception, CPC has provided more than $11.5 billion to finance nearly 200,000 units of housing, and is currently one of the largest Community Development Financial Institutions in the country dedicated to investing in multifamily housing. Visit CPC at communityp.com, FacebookTwitter  and LinkedIn.

About the East Harlem/El Barrio Community Land Trust and Mutual Housing Association

The EHEBCLT/MHA works to develop and preserve community-controlled affordable housing, commercial, green and cultural spaces in East Harlem/El Barrio that is permanently affordable for community members, including households of extremely low to low incomes.  As a strategy to ensure permanent affordability, the East Harlem/El Barrio CLT will own land and lease it to buildings on that land, as well as develop a resident-controlled Mutual Housing Association, a multi-building nonprofit corporation that owns housing and runs it with a mission to keep it permanently affordable. The EHEBCLT was incorporated in June 2014 and is a product of over three years of collaboration between East Harlem residents, local stakeholders, elected officials, community-land activists and affordable housing developers.

About Banana Kelly CIA

Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association, Inc. is a nonprofit community development corporation and Mutual Housing Association (MHA) located in the South Bronx. Our mission is to provide affordable housing that is governed by residents and providing vocational, educational, and cultural programs that foster self-sufficiency and collective capacity through self-help, mutual aid, cooperation, community organizing and advocacy. Banana Kelly is committed to preserving affordable housing by stabilizing and improving the conditions in distressed properties, preserving tenancies and preventing homelessness.  Please visit Banana Kelly at https://bkcianyc.org, https://www.facebook.com/bananakelly, www.Instagram/bananakellybx, and www.Linkedin/bananakelly

About Enterprise Community Partners

Enterprise is a national nonprofit on a mission to make home and community places of pride, power and belonging for all. To make that possible, we operate the only organization designed to address America’s affordable housing crisis from every angle: we develop and deploy programs and support community organizations on the ground; we advocate for policy on a nonpartisan basis at every level of government; we invest capital to build and preserve rental homes people can afford; and we own, operate and provide resident services for affordable communities. All so that people not only make rent, they build futures. With this end-to-end approach, 40 years of experience and thousands of local partners, Enterprise has built and preserved 662,000 affordable homes, invested $53 billion in communities and changed millions of lives. Join us at EnterpriseCommunity.org.

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD)

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. HPD is tasked advancing the goals of the City’s housing plan – a critical pillar of Your Home NYC, Mayor de Blasio’s comprehensive approach to helping New Yorkers get, afford, and keep housing in these challenging times. For full details visit www.nyc.gov/hpd and for regular updates on HPD news and services, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @NYCHousing.