Fiscal Year July 1996 - June 1997

Fiscal year 1996-1997 has been one of University Neighborhood Housing Program’s most productive years. Due to the addition of a new staff person, funding support for our lead poisoning prevention program and the long awaited closing of a community ownership deal, UNHP was able to launch and expand affordable housing initiatives through community organizing, technical assistance and neighborhood lending. While the board and staff of UNHP are pleased that we have been able to grow, the external pressures that impact affordable housing have continued to grow as well. This fact makes our outreach and training work all the more important in the months ahead. Following are some of the highlights of our work this past year.

University Neighborhood’s Community Lending

UNHP’s Community Lending programs have changed substantially since UNHP received lines of credits from four banks in 1988. In the late 1980’s UNHP participated as the primary lender in the acquisition of affordable housing projects from private to community ownership. Today, UNHP is more likely to provide the equity financing for acquisition projects or smaller low interest loans for a specific type of renovation. Our most recent loan provided the equity financing that helped to fund the acquisition and renovation of two buildings at Tremont Anthony Avenues from Freddie Mac to a newly formed HDFC. The deal took 4 years to pull together and was financed by Chase, the City of New York, Freddie Mac and UNHP. In addition to the equity financing, UNHP provided extensive loan packaging, tenant support and technical assistance to the project. With the closing of Tremont-Anthony, UNHP’s loan volume exceeded .5 million. For every dollar of UNHP money, more than 10 dollars in public and private money have been leveraged into the deals.

Green Loans

The UNHP Green Loan Fund was capitalized two short years ago with ,000 from the Bankers Trust. Today the fund has ,000 and has issued 13 green loans in FY1996-97 for a year end total of ,000. Chase Manhattan Bank invested ,000 in 1996 and NorthFork Bank invested ,000 in the Green Loan Fund in 1997. The UNHP Green Loan Fund provides low and no interest financing for energy saving, conservation or security based improvement to affordable housing projects in the Northwest Bronx.

Organizing and Technical Assistance

UNHP has grown substantially over the past year. One of our most exciting effort this year has been the development and creation of a welfare reform committee. Our work on welfare reform has been focused on both the short and long term; trying to impact the current debate on New York State welfare reform legislation and working to expand the base of people to work on these housing issues into the future as the needs for education, job training, day care and social services will continue. In February 1997, UNHP sponsored a welfare reform workshop that was attended by over 40 people representing a wide variety of social service organizations. We ran workshops in homeless shelters and in Northwest Bronx neighborhoods in an effort to expand the number of people directly affected by welfare reform involvement in this issue. Our work on this issue will continue in the coming year.

Lead Poisoning Prevention

Thanks to the two year funding from the Department of Health and the Department of Housing Preservation and Development, UNHP has conducted a series of trainings for building supers, housing mangers, construction supervisors, owners and tenants on the methods of proper lead abatement, lead safe management and renovation techniques, and lead poisoning prevention tips. To date, 40 tenants, 20 homeowners, 14 not for profit housing managers and 50 supers have attended the trainings. Additional workshops will be held throughout the coming year. We have also expanded our lead health work include asthma prevention in outreach meetings in community control buildings. Sponsoring meetings on health awareness will also give us an opportunity to provide information on affordable housing issues including public assistance, Section 8 and budget issues.

Homeownership Work

In 1997, UNHP has been working in local neighborhoods to provide prospective and homeowner workshops. We have held three local meetings and have had a total of 75 residents attended. The first two meetings were held in the Crotona and Kingsbridge neighborhoods and focused on refinancing, home equity loans, water and sewer rates and lead poisoning prevention during home repair. The first time home buyers meeting was held in Mount Hope and focused on new home buyer issues, such as mortgage requirements, home inspection and closing costs.

Public Policy

UNHP has been working to influence public policy as it affects affordable housing and our neighborhoods. University Neighborhood has continued to take a leading role on the cost of water and sewer. UNHP has saved HDFC’s thousand of dollars by working with DEP to clear up billing problems. Looking to resolve the persistent problems that ever increasing water and sewer rates cause for affordable housing, UNHP is an integral part of an affordable housing coalition of lenders, owners and non-profits to restructure water and sewer rates. UNHP has been involved in trying to develop reasonable policies on the city’s new foreclosure proceedings. While the City has implemented a lien sale program quickly, the selective vesting program has been delayed. UNHP, working with local non-profits has developed a proposal for changes in the legislation and the plan to implement the program strategically so that it benefits neighborhoods.

Future Plans

In the upcoming year, our fifteenth, University Neighborhood will work to expand and build upon the achievements accomplished above. We plan to expand our community outreach efforts on lead poisoning prevention through the Family Health Watch Outreach Program. UNHP will work to develop a community based lead abatement and housing maintenance business as well as a formal low interest loan program for lead abatement. UNHP is looking forward to working closely with Fannie Mae, the Community Preservation Corporation, Chase Manhattan Bank and Republic National Bank to develop a lending program for multifamily buildings that would be useful to community organizations and not for profits in the creation of affordable housing.