September 1995 to September 1996
University Neighborhood Housing Program (UNHP), a collaborative two member corporation created by Fordham University and the Northwest Bronx Community and Clergy Coalition, has focused on affordable housing’s big picture throughout the year. While working on the larger issues that impact affordability, UNHP has also assisted in the preservation and development of specific affordable housing projects. University Neighborhood has sought to accomplish our goal through a wide variety of activities and programs, including a community development loan fund, neighborhood organizing and technical assistance.
The UNHP Community Development Loan Funds were started in 1988 with lines of credit provided by four banks. The first loans from the UNHP Loan fund were used to provide short term acquisition loans towards the purchase of community controlled buildings. In the early 1990’s the loan fund was expanded with self amortizing funds and provided equity loans and longer term financing towards the creation of affordable housing. The UNHP Green Loan Fund has been our most recent community development lending effort. The Green Loan fund provides financing to affordable housing projects for conservation and security based upgrades. Our lending work is and will continue to be an important part of our housing work. The following highlights our lending record over the past year.
- Reached a million dollar lending milestone, financing over 1,000 units of affordable housing in the Northwest Bronx.
- Expanded the UNHP Green Loan Fund in 1996 with a Chase Manhattan $250,000 recoverable grant. Chase joined Bankers Trust and the Joyce Mertz-Gilmore Foundation as green loan investors.
- Issued 19 loans in 1995/6 out of our Green Loan fund. The loans were used to purchase and install energy efficient public hall lighting, heat computers and insulation.
Although providing financing for affordable housing through loan funds was the primary impetus for the creation of UNHP, Community Organizing and Technical Assistance has been a component of our work since our inception. University Neighborhood provides direct technical assistance to tenants and community organizations on specific building problems and issues. UNHP reviewed the financial operations of several community organizations and assisted a number of individual community controlled buildings devise plans to resolve immediate financial problems in their day to day operations. That assistance included budgeting, financial reviews and analysis of options including private management. UNHP began to work more closely with local homeowners this year, as a natural extension of our community development work with tenants and multi family buildings. In addition to working on specific issues that affect affordability, UNHP also organizes around the broader issues that jeopardize community based housing. The organizing work of University Neighborhood Housing Program over the past year has focused on the Federal legislative changes to Section 8 and public assistance as well as water, sewer, and tax assessment issues. Following are some of the highlights of our work on these issues.
- In March of 1996, UNHP created an organizing video that featured tenants and those involved with community controlled housing outlining issues with Section 8, lead abatement, and water and sewer increases and their impact on affordable housing.
- Conducted a review of 119 community controlled properties and revealed that almost 25% of the rent roll was received as part of the Section 8 program. This analysis was done to measure the impact that the cuts to the program will have to local community controlled properties and the countless similarly financed properties through the City of New York.
- Participated in a meeting with congressional representatives regarding current and proposed cuts to the Section 8 rental subsidy program.
- Worked with individual community controlled properties to obtain Section 8 certificates promised by the City. UNHP was able to obtain Section 8 back payments for one group and has been assisting other not for profits with this problem of delayed Section 8 payments.
- Introduced FOOTNOTES, a bulletin aimed to a targeted audience of tenant and community leaders to alert people to the need for quick action on certain issues. In 1995, UNHP sent out two Footnotes, one urging action on the Section 8 budget cuts and the second discussing Section 8 again and the Low Income Housing Tax Credit. In 1996, thus far UNHP issued an additional two Footnotes, one on welfare cuts and their impact and the other on a variety of housing legislation.
Water and Sewer
- Continued to spearhead an organizing drive to keep down water and sewer costs as a member of The Affordable Housing Coalition for Water/Sewer Reform. The committee met with Commissioner Gelber of DEP and was able to get an extension of the DEP retroactive transition programs. A meeting with Water Board Chairman, Mark Hellerer, and DEP Commissioner, Joel Miele, is planned and the need for eliminating rate hikes will be discussed as well as rate restructuring proposals and water filtration issues.
- Gathered building by building financial information supporting lowered tax assessments and presented them in a meeting with tenant leaders to the Department of Finance. While the request for an across the board reduction was denied UNHP won specific building reductions.
- Sponsored a workshop entitled “Lead and its Impact on Community Controlled Housing.” in November. The workshop was hosted by Bankers Trust and was attended by over 40 people representing 16 housing groups from throughout the City.
- Featured speaker in Lead Prevent ‘96 sponsored by the Department of Health
- Funded by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development and the Department of Health (HPD/DOH Lead Hazard Risk Reduction Training Program). UNHP will be working to train at least 50 tenants and parents in lead poisoning risk reduction, 50 local contractors, superintendents, and handy persons in lead abatement techniques and 20 housing owners and managers in lead poisoning reduction maintenance and rehabilitation techniques.
- Started a feasibility study for a locally based lead abatement business. UNHP intends to couple a economic development initiative with the trainings in order to take advantage of the availability of trained workers and the advent of lead regulations.
- On April 11th, UNHP held its first Mortgage Fair. The Fair was attended by about 75 Northwest Bronx residents, representatives from 16 Banks and a Credit Union.
- Received partial funding to start up a homeowners counseling service in late 1996. The UNHP Homeowner Counseling Service will provide assistance in determining the financial capacity of the homebuyer, the amount of mortgage that the individual can carry, and the downpayment that can be made. UNHP will work with the homebuyer to select appropriate financing sources available from lending institutions.
University Neighborhood Housing Program looks forward to continuing our work into 1997 by expanding UNHP low and no interest affordable housing financing, increasing the base of support to work on issues affecting affordability and providing a wide range of training and technical assistance initiatives to not for profits groups and organizations. If you would like more information about our work or would like to get on our mailing list please call UNHP at (718) 933-3101 or 733-0738. Thank you for your interest in our work.