Today, the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) released the Bedford-Stuyvesant Housing Plan. The plan is the result of the work done by Bedford-Stuyvesant Housing Initiative – a collaboration of the city with local organizations, community members, and elected officials to address the housing needs of the rapidly changing neighborhood. The resulting neighborhood goals and strategies are laid out in this plan.“These proposals go beyond just affordable apartments and speak to the need for wellness, homeownership, and M/WBE contracting opportunities in our communities,” State Senator Velmanette Montgomery celebrating the work.Much of the planning process focused on developing a number of city-owned empty lots along Fulton Street at the eastern end of Bed-Stuy and across from Marcy Houses. The land was acquired by the City in the 1960s, and despite a number of affordable housing plans since, it was never developed – something the Initiative hoped to change.
The Bed-Stuy plan prioritizes the creation of 825 new affordable homes over the next few years. Currently, 400 apartments are under construction at 1618 Fulton Street, 645 Gates Avenue, and 1921 Atlantic Avenue. The developments will also add a new grocery store, medical services, and other neighborhood amenities. 1921 Atlantic Avenue is the first City-owned site to be developed through an exclusive M/WBE RFP that was won by Dabar Development Partners and Thorobird Companies for use by low-income and formerly homeless households.
The City is now issuing the Bedford-Stuyvesant Community Wealth and Wellness Request for Proposals (RFPs) for two new projects in the community to develop about 280 affordable homes, community health and wellness facilities. The two projects will also be the first under the City’s new equitable ownership requirement Mayor Bill de Blasio announced yesterday. Under this new requirement, at least 25% of the project’s managing ownership interests must be held by a M/WBE or non-profit development partner, entitling it to at least 25% of the total economic benefits of the project.
So what is the Bed-Stuy Housing Plan proposing?
- Support tenants and owners struggling with rising housing costs and financial hardship. In partnership with other city agencies and CBOs, HPD will support homeowners’ and tenants’ financial well-being with financial assistance and direct support around foreclosure prevention. Through initiatives like a new Homeowner Help Desk and Owner Resource Center, the City will connect residents to wealth-building tools, capacity-building training, and other foreclosure prevention assistance.
- Reduce housing speculation and illegal housing-related activities. Bed-Stuy is a hotspot for illegal Airbnb activity and deed theft that targets seniors, and local homeowners also report repeat harassment and solicitation to sell properties below market value. The City will counter harmful real-estate practices by connecting more homeowners to resources and counseling around estate planning, educating the community about illegal short-term rentals, and supporting community efforts to implement a neighborhood “cease-and-desist zone.”
- Improve housing conditions and promote better housing quality. Safe and secure housing is fundamental to a healthy life and poor housing conditions can lead to the underlying health conditions that disproportionately affect communities of color. Nearly two-thirds of all homes in Bed-Stuy are more than 70 years old. In this plan, both HPD and NYCHA will implement service improvements for hundreds of public housing residents and provide new financing resources, technical assistance, and enforcement tools to improve housing management and housing quality for both homeowners and tenants. Through the PACT program, NYCHA has made steady progress making comprehensive repairs and upgrades, including new windows, heating systems, kitchens, and bathrooms, to approximately 700 apartments across 10 developments.
- Enhance education outreach and information-sharing with homeowners and tenants. Working closely with homeowner and tenant associations, housing nonprofits, local businesses and community organizations, the City will develop better public engagement and information sharing around various community partners’ housing support services and educate residents about their legal rights, property requirements, violations, and fines. To start, HPD plans to host tenant resource clinics and develop a Bed-Stuy homeowner’s guide. For residents, education and outreach will center on the recent expansion of tenant’s rights.
- Create new affordable rental and homeownership opportunities on vacant land. The City is advancing community-driven strategies for new affordable housing opportunities on local City-owned sites. The first two projects developed through the Community Wealth and Wellness Request for Proposals (RFPs) will reflect the community’s desire for housing investments to enhance affordability, promote community wealth and financial well-being, foster opportunities for minority- and women-owned business enterprise (M/WBEs) and other emerging developers while uplifting the neighborhood’s cultural history.
“This housing plan builds on Bed-Stuy’s rich history at the forefront of the community development movement with local leaders and residents working together to protect their neighborhood from the forces of racism and economic instability,” said HPD Commissioner Louise Carroll. “Developed through an inclusive, community-driven process, the plan reflects priorities of the Bed-Stuy community, including creating affordable housing, protecting residents from displacement, and promoting equitable ownership among M/WBE and nonprofit developers.”