Hunts Point Revitalized By Affordable Housing


JUNE 11TH, 2002

BY PAUL MESSINA

If you think you know Hunts Point, think again. As the neighborhood continues to improve, its newest addition is 102 brand new housing units.

It's all part of the NYC Partnership's "New Homes/Neighborhood Builders Program."

“More than 18,000 homes have been built under this program - homes throughout the five boroughs - in neighborhoods that really couldn't attract homeownership investment or private investment prior to this program, so it's been a great public-private partnership,” says Kathryn Wylde of the NYC Partnership.

These 42 homes include two-family and three-family homes; all for first-time homeowners.

“I'm a 35-year-old woman, I have two children, and yes, I would never have been able to afford my own home. I'm now a home owner and a landlord,” says Sylvia Cabassa.

The rental apartments help with mortgage payments. Plus, subsidies bring the cost of homeownership down as well.

According to Elizabeth Velez of the Velez Organization, “There is $100,000 on average in subsidy going to these homeowners from the city and the borough president's office into the project.”

So the final cost for a two-family home is about $186,000. A three-family home is $235,000 on average.

“These kinds of projects are worth much more in value than just the bricks and mortar that you see here,” says Velez. “A total of 102 families are going to be moving into this two-block area, so the impact on the community cannot be measured.”

But the developer – The Velez Organization - still needed help to make this project a reality. That's where individual investor Jerome Chazen came in.

“They did need some help on the equity side. Fortunately, I was able to provide it, and look what we got! It's great!” says Chazen.

But by coincidence, Chazen's investment turned out to have a personal connection. He grew up on this block.

“Yes I did, right across the street,” he says. “And when it turned out that they were actually going to build new affordable housing right where I grew up, I was blown away. I said, it must be some kind of fate that brought me here.”

So not only are current and future residents benefiting, but one former resident is giving back.

“What we found is it creates value that has a ripple effect throughout the neighborhood,” says Wylde. “So you'll see investments in the apartment buildings and in the other existing homes; people will fix up, because now they have real value in their homes.”

“It’s an example of the revival that has occurred in the Bronx,” says Bronx Borough President Adolfo Carrion Jr. “But this is special and unique because it's Hunts Point, and there was a sense that people would not want to come here and not want to invest, and every home has been sold.”

Hunts Point is truly on the way up, and the proof is on Bryant Avenue.