UNHP November Newsletter
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Bronx Housing Insecurity is Driven by
Low-Incomes & Rising Rents

Forty years later, the problems have changed, many of the people have changed, and the strategies have changed, but the enthusiasm, the dedication and faith in neighborhood people’s ability to come together and make things happen is still here, as strong as ever.

- Jim Buckley, from Honoree Acceptance Speech at '40 y Fuerte,' Northwest Bronx Community & Clergy Coalition Gala 
When UNHP’s loan program started in 1988, $100,000 was enough money to purchase two buildings with a total of 51 apartments in the Fordham Bedford and University Heights area. Today, $100,000 would not cover the cost of the purchase of a single apartment in those same neighborhoods. This example could be the start of an animated real estate market discussion about what has happened in the Bronx over the past 30 years. We don’t want to do that. We want to get a discussion going about what this means for Bronx residents.
In 1988, many Bronx residents were fighting to be able to continue living in their apartments despite the lack of basic services like heat and hot water. In 2015-16, many Bronx residents are fighting to continue to afford to live in their apartments. Building sale prices well in excess of $100,000 per apartment does not represent good news for these residents. UNHP’s 2013 report Nowhere to Go highlighted that there is no other place in NYC for poor people pushed out of the Bronx.
The term “housing insecurity” is relatively new to us and a number of organizations are using it to encompass the different issues confronting tenants with tight budgets. The term may leave too much to the reader’s imagination. “Housing insecurity” may not do enough to convey the fear and stress that goes with wondering whether you will remain in your apartment, whether you will have to move to an unfamiliar neighborhood or another city, whether you will have to move in with family or friends, and whether anyone is doing anything to help.        

This map shows the total number of renter households in each neighborhood making 0-50% AMI that are extremely rent-burdened (paying more than half of their income towards rent). 4 out of the 10 Bronx Sub-Borough Areas are in the highest range, affecting close to 80,000 households.

Many Bronx residents are in danger of becoming homeless themselves; struggling to get by, facing high rent burdens and compensating through overcrowded living situations. Living on the verge of homelessness creates the fear and stress that is driving the reaction to the City housing proposals and City homeless programs. Bronx residents have good reason to fear displacement when tenants are living in buildings where vacant units are not rented and rumors about the city paying their landlord nearly $3,000 a month to turn multiple rent stabilized units into shelter housing. Bronx residents hear about proposals for new housing with affordable housing requirements that are not affordable for them and learn about their landlord trying to sell their building for top dollar to someone who might turn out to be a speculator interested in driving them out.  

This graph shows the rising sales prices of multifamily properties in the Bronx. UNHP expects the upward trend to continue in 2015. 

We have painted a bleak picture in our holiday eblast; but to solve a problem, you have to clearly identify it. There are so many examples of success in the history of our work and the community organizing and community development work in the Bronx that we enter the holiday season and New Year filled with hope and enthusiasm. There are many bright spots in this Bronx story – like the thousands of multifamily building units that were saved from demolition and renovated since the 1970’s that provide both private and not-profit rent stabilized housing for Bronx residents. Additionally, thanks to the work of neighborhood leaders, community groups, non-profit and for profit managers and developers, non-profit intermediaries, private lenders and governmental agencies; there are thousands of affordable rental apartments that will stay affordable for years to come.
Even as finding permanent affordable housing for those in shelters becomes more difficult; UNHP highlighted the oasis of support and caring at two transitional shelters in the Bronx. Siena House and Concourse House provide safe, transitional homes for homeless women and their children as well as on-site social services, childcare, housing assistance, job training and life-skills support. UNHP encourages you to support their work with a donation through their websites; Siena House, Concourse House.

While many Bronx residents struggle to get by, 25 trained, licensed and operating home-based FBCS Early Learn Network Daycare Providers graduated from the Northwest Bronx Childcare Entrepreneurship Program, a business growth class sponsored by NYC Small Business Services, Citi, UNHP and FBCS in April of this year. One provider, Katiuska Morel, just opened her second business in one of FBHC’s buildings and another 20 Bronx daycare providers will be graduating from the class in January.

Thank you for your support and partnership towards our mission to create and preserve affordable housing and bring resources to the northwest Bronx. UNHP will continue to post research findings on our blog, Views from the Northwest Bronx, as well as updates on our work at the Northwest Bronx Resource Center and the UNHP Multifamily Assistance Center.

Best wishes for a Happy Thanksgiving.

Copyright © 2015 University Neighborhood Housing Program, All rights reserved.

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