September 24, 2015

UNHP’s BIP Can Reveal the History of NYC Apartment Buildings


As part of our work to preserve affordable housing, UNHP developed the Building Indicator Project (BIP), a database that leverages public data to gauge physical and/or financial distress of multifamily properties in New York City. We currently track over 62,000 properties with five units or more units in all New York City boroughs.

While the database is used to highlight the current conditions of multifamily housing, we also track the historical performance of each building. History is important – keeping a record of the past tells the story of the building. The above chart shows the different histories of two buildings, 2179 Matthews Avenue ( blue) has steadily become more distressed over time, while 150 West 179th Street ( red) was in extreme distress in 2010 and has been improving ever since. Within the last year we’ve added new criteria and levels of engagement in an effort to drill down on building conditions. These efforts capitalize on the relevancy of the database. It provides a proactive measure to address issues of financial and physical distress in multifamily housing stock. We have expanded our reach to over thirty-five public agencies, foundations and community groups and our lender engagement is at an all-time high.

Our unique scoring system captures current conditions using housing and building code violations, city liens, and other building information to create a weighted scoring system to indicate distress. A score of 800 or more is indicative of a property in hardship. A score between 500 and 800 is a signal that the property may become distressed and warrants further review. Scores start at zero and there is no ceiling, with higher scores indicating more distress and hardship. In our February 2014 release of BIP data there were slightly fewer than 1500 properties indicated as likely to be distressed in our database.

We now disseminate data to over 30 multifamily lenders on an on-going basis to identify and intervene in troubled properties. In the period from February 2014 through April 2015, we witnessed higher levels of improvements in properties financed by lenders who reported integrating BIP data into their asset management. For properties that scored over 500 points in February 2014, there was an average decrease in score of 3% in properties where we worked with the lender compared to a 38% rise in score for properties where we don’t have a relationship with the lending institutions.

In April 2015, lending institutions without BIP subscriptions held mortgages on properties that had an average score 46 % higher (more distress) than Lenders with BIP data.