Jerome Chazen, Elizabeth Velez and Andrew Velez
at the future site of Hunts Point/Chazen Homes

Ground Broken At Chazen Homes
Vol. 3 No.3 Dec. 99

As ground was being broken on the first new housing complex to hit the South Bronx's Hunts Point peninsula in 30 years, Jerome Chazen could be overheard talking of affordable housing, community development and reminiscing about his old neighborhood.

"This is very exciting for me," said Mr. Chazen who grew up in Hunts Point and went on to found Liz Claiborne and Chazen Capital Partners, a venture capital firm. "This is true neighborhood development."

The story of Hunts Point/Chazen New Homes is another example of the renewal sweeping areas like the South Bronx, thanks in large part to innovative public-private collaborations engineered by the Partnership's affiliate, the New York City Housing Partnership. Working with the private sector and public partners like the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the New York State Affordable Housing Corporation, the Partnership has helped revitalize entire neighborhoods - 6,000 new units of affordable housing have been built in the South Bronx alone through the New Homes program.

The fact that Mr. Chazen grew up on the abandoned lot on which these new homes are to be built is a coincidence, but illuminates the deeper story of a neighborhood's disintegration from vibrancy to the blight of the 1970s. And Mr. Chazen's involvement in the project, which includes a $436,000 letter of credit to help the builder with equity financing, stands as a symbol of the type of renewal that these neighborhoods are experiencing.

Says Mr. Chazen, "I was reading about how these builders were all ready to go but lacked equity financing and these problems were getting in the way of development."

The Partnership matched Chazen with the Velez Organization under BusinessLINC, a program of the U.S. Department of the Treasury and the U.S. Small Business Administration. The purpose of BusinessLINC is to match larger, established businesses with smaller, local companies - particularly those in disadvantaged communities - to help tap into the expertise and business opportunities they need to compete and grow.

The Partnership is administering the New York BusinessLINC Program, which is being chaired by Chase Manhattan's vice chair, Donald Boudreau. Under the program, the Velez Organization benefited from networking with a larger company (Chazen Capital Partners) as well as the $436,000 letter of credit that helped them secure a bank loan for the $7.5 million project.

Says Elizabeth Velez, "We are thrilled with how it turned out. This is our largest project to date. With the assistance we received through New Homes and the Chazen Foundation everything fell into place."

Once completed, the site will be home to 102 units of affordable, homeownership housing for middle-income and working-class families. The 23 two family homes and 19 three-family homes will be completed under the Housing Partnership's New Homes program, with financing from EAB.

"Hunts Point/Chazen New Homes is the perfect example of how a home-ownership program that combines city assistance with private bank and philanthropic funds can contribute to neighborhood revitalization and local business development. Through BusinessLINC, we hope to expand our work with local enterprises beyond the housing field," says Gale Kaufman, vice president of the Partnership.

Says Mr. Chazen, who is also a Partner with the NYCP, "It's been educational and gratifying and the houses are going to be beautiful. Hopefully, this will act as a kind of story for others to get involved and give something back to the city that helped them make it."