Annual Report 2010Annual Report 2010

In April 2010, the Housing Development Corporation and the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development financed the 100,000th unit under Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan. We celebrated that achievement with a day-long tour of the five boroughs, breaking ground in both Manhattan and The Bronx and cutting ribbons on new and preserved projects in Queens, Brooklyn and Staten Island.

The development and preservation of affordable housing is a citywide effort that requires strong partnerships among agencies, tenants and advocates with not-for-profit, community and for-profit developers. We work together so we can live together.

Creating and preserving 100,000 affordable homes is a remarkable achievement under any circumstance—and hitting that benchmark within seven years of the NHMP launch is even more striking. In the 1980s the City was faced with a benchmark of an entirely different nature—one that threatened to undermine its social and economic structure. The economic crisis of the 1970s left New York with 100,000 units of abandoned property, some of it occupied, but most of it uninhabitable.

In the throes of this crisis then Mayor Koch acted aggressively, rejecting “planned shrinkage” and devising the most aggressive affordable housing preservation program any municipality had ever seen. New Yorkers in the mid-1980s witnessed their cityscape spring back to life. An entire center section of Harlem—block by block of vacant, decaying, derelict and drug-infested housing—was gut renovated. East New York Brooklyn, with square miles of vacant land, saw a housing construction boom that continues today. Enormous abandoned buildings covering square blocks of the South Bronx and containing more square footage than the Empire State Building, were reborn for a new generation of New Yorkers.

The rehabilitation of those first 100,000 units, beginning in the 1980s, set the stage for the City’s housing policy of today. The work continues.

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The ongoing preservation of New York City’s precious public and private housing stock is a central focus of HDC’s programs. On the practical side, it is much more cost-effective to renovate than to build new—especially in New York where the cost of land, labor and materials are high. More than that, it is guided by an intimate knowledge of the City’s make up; every borough has a unique personality formed by the amalgam of strong communities within its geographic borders, each with a Main Street boasting individual traits and a discrete, identifiable character. The building blocks of these communities are the small and large multifamily properties that are home to individuals and families for whom the neighborhood is the sum of their world. They shop, play and go to school within blocks of their homes. In a crowded City of more than eight million, home and community are precious resources.

This is the fabric and heartbeat of New York City; keeping that fabric whole is why housing preservation is so important. Keeping families in their homes, and providing the means to keep those homes safe, secure and solid is the key to stabilizing our City’s neighborhoods for this generation and the next.

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