Transferring the first set of land and buildings onto the EHEBCLT
Through many years of organizing–and in the midst of the pandemic–in November 2020, we acquired our first four buildings for $1 each from HPD, becoming the first new CLT in NYC to win city-owned land. We have partnered with two nonprofit developers, Banana Kelly and Community Assisted, Tenant Controlled Housing (CATCH) to rehabilitate the buildings and convert them into tenant-run, permanently affordable housing via the newly formed East Harlem El Barrio Mutual Housing Association (EHEB MHA).
After years in city ownership, our four buildings needed substantial rehabilitation work. Construction on the first two buildings is nearly complete, with a certificate of occupancy expected in the coming weeks, which will allow tenants to move into the newly renovated buildings. Our nonprofit developer partners will then begin rehabilitating the remaining two buildings. When complete, the four buildings will provide 38 permanently affordable apartments and 3 affordable commercial and community spaces, owned by a tenant-run MHA on CLT land. Sixteen homes will be deeply affordable to families earning 35% Area Median Income (about $38,000 for a family of three) and 4 will be reserved for people transitioning out of homelessness. The remaining vacant apartments will be affordable to residents at or below 100% AMI.
Organize to deepen the affordability of CLT homes and prioritize community residents for homes developed on CLT land
While this represents a much higher proportion of deely affordable homes than typical city-sponsored projects, our vision for housing developed on CLT land continues to be deep affordability for extremely-low income people, and we will organize with residents to secure Project-Based Section 8 vouchers to further deepen the affordability of the project. We also intend to launch an organizing campaign to prioritize East and Central Harlem residents for vacant CLT homes. City policy currently requires all units developed with city subsidy to be marketed through a citywide lottery process, and organizing for local community preference is critical to CLT efforts to promote community self-determination over housing and other critical community resources.
Build resident and community power to steward land and housing together
Given our commitment to perpetual affordability and democratic governance, ongoing organizing and capacity-building to develop a pipeline of resident and community leaders to steward CLT land and housing and build community power to advocate for deep affordability and cooperative, community-controlled development are critical to our work. Prior to the pandemic, EHEBCLT led regular one-on-ones and political education workshops reaching 16 current building residents, through which they strengthened their relationships to each other and CLT, adopted shared principles and community agreements, and formed a building captain structure that will remain part of the MHA governance structure. We adapted our resident meetings and trainings to a virtual format during the pandemic, and with our MHA partners, launched a second training series focused on preparing residents to collectively manage and steward their buildings and join the MHA and CLT boards. We are committed to popular education, accessibility, and language justice. Our training materials are grounded in resident expertise and experience, and we provide interpretation in English and Spanish and translation for all written materials. We continue to build on this momentum by developing bilingual trainings to deepen resident capacity toward building management, self-governance, and mutual care.
Win policies and funding to expand CLTs and cooperative development citywide
EHEBCLT is an active leader with the NYCCLI steering committee, and we have joined NYCCLI partners in four successful pushes for NYC Council funding. Our recent success acquiring land from the city uniquely positions us to share our knowledge and experiences and shape a CLT policy agenda as part of a broader effort to scale social housing and cooperative community development. We continue to deepen our organizing and advocacy with coalition partners on campaigns focused on public land disposition, passing Opportunity to Purchase legislation, abolishing the NYC tax lien sale, and deepening city affordability requirements.
We are also members of the Cooperative Economic Alliance of NYC (CEANYC), a cross-sectoral alliance of cooperative organizations. As we prepare to further scale our work, we intend to deepen the role of CLTs in expanding NYC’s solidarity economy and cooperative community development, including through affordable space for worker coops, community gardens, and exploring cooperative finance and investment models.
Local government officials were partners in EHEBCLT’s formation and first acquisition of city-owned buildings, and we continue to enjoy strong support from our community board and NYC Council Members.