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March 2010 | Volume 9 Issue 2   


Housing in Hawaii: Making Kauhale Affordable
Working AND Living in a Colorado Resort Town
Converting Stalled Developments Into Affordable Housing in New York City

Converting Stalled Developments Into Affordable Housing In New York City

A view of buildings in New York City, New York. The recent housing meltdown and economic crisis has left several stalled construction sites and unfinished buildings scattered throughout New York City. Last year, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and city council speaker Christine Quinn introduced a pilot program, Housing Asset Renewal Program (HARP), to mitigate the negative effects of these vacant and unfinished buildings by converting them into affordable housing for the city's moderate-income residents. The city set aside $20 million dollars for the program, which is part of the Mayor's New Housing Marketplace Plan to provide 165,000 affordable housing units for New Yorkers by 2014.

Under HARP, developers or owners of unfinished residential projects can apply for funding to complete construction. Funding is also available to enable developers to rent or sell units in residential buildings that remain vacant following completion of construction. In exchange for this financial assistance, at least 50 percent of the original market-rate rental or for-sale units must be price-capped for a period of 30 years — the units must be affordable to households earning at or below 165 percent of the area median income (AMI). The program gives preference to projects that require a subsidy of less than $50,000 per for-sale unit. For rental housing, preference is given to projects requiring a subsidy of less than $75,000 per unit. The rental units must be affordable to households earning no more than 130 percent of the AMI. In addition, priority will be given to projects located in neighborhoods that will see a greater benefit from the stabilization efforts. The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), which administers HARP, released a Notice of Funding Availability (NOFA) for the program in July 2009. Funding was scheduled to be awarded on a rolling basis.

When HARP was announced last summer, HPD Commissioner Rafael E. Cestero expressed confidence that the program will provide "an opportunity to stabilize neighborhoods that have been most affected by the economic downturn while giving us fresh opportunities to create affordable housing." It is anticipated that HARP could result in the creation of 400 affordable housing units in the city. As of November 2009, HPD received five applications for HARP funding. The original deadline of December 2009 for the NOFA applications has currently been extended to April 2010.


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