Today, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) and New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC) closed on the financing of the latest Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (PACT) transaction to fund comprehensive renovations for 690 apartments (as well as the construction of three apartments) at Harlem River Houses and the adjoining Harlem River II campus. This latest conversion will enable NYCHA’s PACT partners to begin comprehensive upgrades to apartments and common areas; modernize building facades and provide façade repairs to landmarked buildings; upgrade elevators and security and heating systems; abate environmental hazards such as lead-based paint; invest in energy- and sustainability-related improvements; and address other needs identified by the residents at the developments. The rehabilitation is scheduled to begin this spring and is anticipated to be completed between 2024 and 2025.The two-year engagement process for residents of these developments entailed a range of communication methods, including dozens of in-person briefings for tenant association leadership and residents, as well as mailed notices, virtual meetings, conference calls, phone banking, flyers, digital and paper surveys, and recorded videos, among others.
With this latest closing, the PACT program has now generated over $3.4 billion in capital funding for nearly 15,500 apartments to facilitate comprehensive renovations, in addition to enhanced property management and social services, across New York City.
“These NYCHA campuses have a storied history, with generations of residents who have made New York City their home,” said NYCHA Chair & CEO Greg Russ. “Today’s announcement will help ensure that the future of these properties is as bright and dynamic as the legacy of its past – by marshalling significant capital investment and community resources for our residents.”
“With today’s announcement we celebrate a victory for the residents of Harlem River Houses and Harlem River II campuses,” said HDC President Eric Enderlin. “Thanks to extensive collaboration between our partners and NYCHA residents under PACT, we are able to address the need for sweeping repairs, building modernization, and sustainable upgrades, while at the same time broadening social services and guaranteeing affordability and tenant protections. Congratulations and thank you to our partners and the NYCHA residents for their ongoing efforts to bring critical improvements to these historically significant developments.”
“We are excited to bring comprehensive upgrades and enhanced property management and social services to Harlem River Houses and Harlem River II to facilitate a new chapter in the life of these properties,” said Executive Vice President of Real Estate Development Jonathan Gouveia. “The comprehensive rehabilitation scope made possible through the PACT program will retain and restore the historically significant features of the properties while bringing other energy and safety improvements.”
“As the first federally funded public housing development in the country built for African-Americans, Harlem River’s history is incredibly important, not only to NYCHA but to the City at-large,” said Harlem River Houses Resident Association President Michelle Grant. “Today’s agreement is a historic new milestone for Harlem River – and our residents have played an integral role in working to ensure that the renovations planned for our community are reflective of the changes they would like to see while respectful of our proud heritage.”
“WHGA has over 50 years’ experience in affordable housing preservation and development, and we have participated in various public and private partnerships designed to enhance Harlem’s historic housing stock,” said West Harlem Group Assistance Executive Director Donald Notice. “This rehabilitation is one of our most promising ventures to date, and the development team assembled to deliver much-needed repairs for residents of these developments have the right mix of experience, talent, and dedication to complete such an ambitious project.”
“Settlement Housing Fund is so proud to take on this important project with a first in class team, including West Harlem Group Assistance, L+M Builders, C+C Management, and Curtis + Ginsburg Architects,” said Settlement Housing Fund President Alexa Sewell. “We want to thank the leadership and many staff who worked on this project at NYCHA and HDC – for their incredible dedication and partnership. We are looking forward to bringing upgrades to the 693 apartments at Harlem River I and II, which will improve the quality of life for residents, and bring beautiful changes to the buildings and grounds that make up this historic development.”
The Harlem River properties will receive $236 million in comprehensive renovations to the 690 apartments and eight residential buildings at these sites. The PACT partners at Harlem River are led by Settlement Housing Fund, Inc., a non-profit developer, and West Harlem Group Assistance. L+M Builders Group will perform the rehabilitation work as the general contractor. C+C Apartment Management LLC is now responsible for the day-to-day management and operation of the property. Social services are being provided by the non-profit partner Presbyterian Senior Services (PSS) whose mission is to strengthen the capacity of older New Yorkers, their families, and communities to thrive.
Harlem River Houses were built between 1936 and 1937 and represent the first federally funded, built, and owned housing development in New York City. Notably, Harlem River Houses was designed by John Louis Wilson, the first African-American graduate of Columbia University’s famed graduate school of architecture and the founder of the Council for the Advancement of the Negro in Architecture, which later merged with the American Institute of Architects. Wilson pioneered the use of large courtyards, open spaces, the planting of trees, and community rooms – many of the features known to be vital for healthy housing. The property was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1979 for its significance in the areas of architecture, community planning, and social-humanitarian history. The comprehensive rehabilitation scope will retain and restore the historically significant features while bringing other energy and safety improvements. Located between West 151st and West 152nd Street and bounded by Frederick Douglass Boulevard, the Harlem River II campus is home to more than 200 residents and was built in 1965.
Through PACT, NYCHA uses programs of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) to convert units to the Project-Based Section 8 program and finance comprehensive improvements to its public housing developments, while preserving long-term affordability and ensuring residents have the same basic rights as they possess in the public housing program. NYCHA’s PACT partners assume responsibility for comprehensive repairs and day-to-day operation of the PACT developments. NYCHA continues to own the land and buildings, administer the Section 8 subsidy, set rents (which continue to be capped at 30 percent of household income, in accordance with HUD requirements), manage the waitlist for filling any vacant apartments, and oversee the rehabilitation and conditions at the developments.
The New York City Housing Development Corporation, New York City’s municipal Housing Finance Agency, is the financing partner for PACT. HDC will coordinate or provide loan financing funding by bonds issued through HDC’s Multi-Family Housing Bond Resolution (the “Open Resolution”) and the newly created Housing Impact Bond Resolution (the “Impact Resolution’), a bond resolution created solely to facilitate NYCHA transactions.
Since 2016, the PACT program has generated more than $3.4 billion in capital funding for comprehensive apartment renovations and building infrastructure improvements for nearly 15,500 households. Approximately $579 million in renovations have already been completed, and $2.8 billion in major upgrades are underway or will begin early this year. An additional 19,700 households are part of active development projects in the process of resident engagement or pre-development. In sum, NYCHA has more than 35,000 apartments completed, in construction, or in a stage of resident engagement or pre-development.