Rehabbed Plaza Borinquen Goes Even More Affordable

In an effort to fight New York City’s affordable housing crisis, developers and local authorities join forces to build, repair and renovate housing communities across the five boroughs.

By Veronica Grecu, Associate Editor

An aging rental community in the Mott Haven section of the Bronx dusted itself off and is now ready to welcome residents.

Plaza Borinquen

Representatives of The NHP Foundation (NHPF)—a nonprofit organization that fights to preserve and create affordable multifamily housing for low- to moderate-income families and seniors—, HDC, HPD, PNC Bank and HUD attended an official ceremony this week to celebrate the completion of a $25.4 million deep repair and extensive renovation of Plaza Borinquen, an 88-unit affordable townhome community.

Designed by architect John Ciardullo and completed in 1975 as part of an infill housing program to move people from substandard to new housing, the forty-year-old community consists of nine buildings located along East 137th, East 138th and East 139th Streets between Brook and Willis Avenues and serves low-income families earning up to 60 percent of Area Median Income. NHPF purchased the asset in early 2012 for $6.71 million and the renovation process kicked off shortly after the acquisition.

According to an official statement, HDC allocated $8.4 million in permanent financing to facilitate the acquisition and renovation of the townhomes as low- and moderate-income housing, PNC Bank provided $7.7 million in equity from the sale of tax credits allocated by HPD, while a $1.9 million City Capital Loan was provided by HDC and HPD. Additionally, HUD provided a 20-year Project Based Section 8 Contract in rental assistance to Plaza Borinquen, making the rents affordable for lower income tenants—this means that 75 percent of the renter households at Plaza Borinquen will pay no more than 30 percent of their adjusted income for rent.

Affordable Housing Online indicates that Section 8 contract rent is 103.3 percent of the Fair Market rent for the area. This accounts for $1,215 for a one-bedroom unit, $1,440 for a two-bedroom units, $1,852 for a three-bedroom, and $2,075 for a four-bedroom apartment.

“Preserving affordable housing in booming neighborhoods like the South Bronx is a vital anchor for longtime residents who have spent their whole lives working to improve their communities,” said HUD Deputy Regional Administrator Mirza Orriols. “With the capital repairs made to Plaza Borinquén and long-term rental subsidies HUD has provided, families can remain in an area of rapidly growing opportunity.”

Image courtesy of The NHP Foundation