14 hours ago by
New York City real estate companies' attempts to rename a Harlem neighborhood "SoHa" have enraged long-time residents of the historically black enclave, who say the move erases the community's rich cultural history. The neighborhood served as home and inspiration to generations of leading African Americans, including activists W.E.B. Du Bois and Malcolm X, who dubbed it "Seventh Heaven." Artists such as poet Langston Hughes and singers Harry Belafonte and Ella Fitzgerald also lived there. The "SoHa" name, echoing the high-priced, largely white Manhattan neighborhood of SoHo in lower Manhattan, has begun appearing in real estate listings for apartments located between 110th Street and 125th Street, and Realtor Keller Williams boasts a "SoHa Team" of agents on its website. Keller Williams did not respond to a request for comment. Harlem's U.S. Congressman Adriano Espaillat vowed to introduce a House resolution to protect Harlem from being renamed. "#WeRHarlem! And we refuse to be called by any other name! #NY13 #HarlemStrong," @RepEspaillat wrote on Twitter on Monday. The tweet accompanied a photograph of the famed Apollo Theater, where Fitzgerald made her singing debut at age 17 on Amateur Night in 1934. Espaillat said the congressional resolution he plans to introduce this week "supports imposing limitations on the ability to change the name of a neighborhood based on economic gain." "I along with leaders and constituents of this community stand united to vigorously oppose the renaming Harlem in yet another sanctioned gentrification," he said in an email. "This is an incredibly insulting attempt to disown Harlem's longtime residents, legacy, and culture." Jamie McShane, a spokesman for the Real Estate Board of New York, an industry association, said the group supports existing state regulations, which prohibit real estate brokers from using "a name to describe an area that would be misleading to the public." Historian Billy Mitchell poses outside the Apollo Theater in the Harlem section of New York June 11, 2014 Harlem is not the only historically black U.S. neighborhood to have its image challenged by eager real estate agents. Further north, parts of the South Bronx have been christened the "Piano District," a reference to its former instrument manufacturing base. In Washington, D.C., real estate firms have recast the Shaw neighborhood around historically black Howard University as North End of Shaw. Both sparked outrage among long-time residents, particularly after developers who pushed the Piano District name change threw a "Bronx is Burning" themed Halloween party in 2015 that focused on the neighborhood's 1970s decay, complete with a bullet-riddled car sculpture. source

June 24, 2017 by
Life sure seems easy when you're wealthy, what with no worries about things like landlord harassment and generally being free from material want. But, pour one out for the unlucky person, or more accurate in this case "shadowy possible collective of people hiding behind a shell company," who's the laughingstock of the world of wealth because their apartment at One57 has become the most expensive foreclosed upon residential property in New York City history. One57, where a bank is about to seize a very expensive apartment. (via Flickr user hiimlynx) Apartment 79, a 6,240 square-foot full floor penthouse in the One57 building, has undergone a mortgage default and is scheduled for a foreclosure action next month according to Bloomberg. The penthouse apartment, which was bought for $50.9 million in December 2014, was purchased with the aid of a $35.3 mortgage from Banque Havilland SA. And to think, you can't even get credit at your favorite bar. Since the $35 million loan wasn't paid back within a year, Havilland is suing the shell company for all of the money, plus interest according to Bloomberg. "It’s probably the most-expensive foreclosure we’ve ever seen in luxury development," one high-end real estate developer told the website. The expensive foreclosure comes just under a year after real estate brokers said that we were witnessing the "death knell" of extraordinarily high prices for ultra-luxury condos that will turn Central Park into a land of shadows. And while it wasn't a foreclosure, this story also pairs well with the LLC that bought a One57 condo in 2014 and then had to take a $7 million haircut when they tried to flip it. You've gotta take the good news where you can find it these days, folks. source

June 16, 2017 by
Harvard's State of the Nation's Housing report has grim news about housing affordability. The lower end of the rental housing market continues to lose ground, according to the new The State of the Nation’s Housing report by the Joint Center for Housing Studies of Harvard University. Modestly priced rental units available for under $800 declined by 261,000 between 2005 and 2015, with most of the loss occurring at the lowest rent levels. At the other end, the number of units renting for $2,000 or more surged by 1.5 million. The shift in the rental stock toward the high end of the market is also clear from the 32% rise in real median asking rents since 2000, says the report. As a result, there is a worsening mismatch of demand and supply, with the number of low-income renters far outstripping the number of available affordable units. Indeed, more than 11 million renter households pay at least half of their incomes for housing. The new report shows that the affordable rental housing crisis continues even though foreclosures are ebbing and the homeownership market has rebounded since the recession. In examining the threats to the affordable housing supply, the report finds that housing created under the low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) is a concern. The federal program has driven the construction and preservation of affordable housing in the country for 30 years, helping to add about 3 million units since its creation in 1986. However, the Trump administration’s desire to cut corporate tax credits have dampened investor demand for the credits. In addition, affordability restrictions on more than 500,000 LIHTC units will expire over the next decade. “While only 5% of LIHTC units typically convert to market rate at the end of their affordability periods, absent additional subsidies, units in low-poverty neighborhoods are at higher risk,” says the report. “The possible loss of affordable units in these areas—where lower-income households typically have more access to employment, education, and other opportunities—is of great concern.” Looking ahead, being intentional and being committed about developing affordable housing will be critical to addressing the rental housing crisis, said Terri Ludwig, president and CEO of Enterprise Community Partners, during a webcast held to discuss the report’s findings. Traditional tools like the LIHTC also remain essential. “While the margins absolutely have been squeezed,” she said. “It’s still a very highly productive program, which is generating 100,000 units of either new or preserved affordable housing every year and also creating about 100,000 jobs in the same time.” Demand for housing credits still outpaces supply, so Enterprise and others support legislation to expand the LIHTC program, according to Ludwig. The State of the Nation’s Housing report also finds that: · Nearly half of the nation’s 100 largest metro areas posted absolute declines in their stocks of low-rent units (defined as having real gross rents under $800) between 2005 and 2015. Metros with the largest losses in percentage terms included Austin, Denver, Portland, and Seattle, where supplies were down by a third or more; · Despite a slight improvement from 2014, fully one-third of U.S. households paid more than 30% of their incomes for housing in 2015. The number of cost-burdened renters (21 million) outstrips the number of cost-burdened owners (18 million) even though nearly two-thirds of U.S. households own their homes; · Nearly half (48%) of all renters were cost burdened in 2015, but shares among lower-income households were much higher—83% for renters with incomes under $15,000 and 77% for those with incomes between $15,000 and $29,999. In addition, some 26% of renter households paid more than half their incomes for housing in 2015. Among those earning under $15,000 per year, the share with severe burdens exceeded 70%; · Between 2000 and 2015, the number of people living below the federal poverty line soared from 33.8 million to 47.7 million. Over half of the nation’s poor now live in high-poverty neighborhoods (places where at least 20% of the residents are poor), up from 43% in 2000; · The number of high-poverty neighborhoods rose from 13,400 to more than 21,300. Although most high-poverty neighborhoods are still concentrated in high-density urban cores, their recent growth has been fastest in low-density areas at the metropolitan fringe and in rural communities · Nearly 25 million children lived in households with cost burdens in 2015; · One-third of older adults faced cost burdens in 2015, including 54% of renters and 43% of owners with mortgages on their homes; · Three-quarters of renter households eligible for rental assistance on the basis of their income do not receive it; and · The value of multifamily debt outstanding rose by nearly $100 billion in 2016, marking the second year of record-high increases and lifting the total to over $1.1 trillion. More than two-thirds of the growth ($67 billion) came from federal sources, while banks and thrifts contributed $39 billion. In contrast, multifamily mortgage debt in commercial mortgage backed securities continued to shrink, by $15 billion. source

May 26, 2017 by
An argument over promised green space could pose a problem Plans to bring more 1,000 apartments to a waterfront site in the Bronx, not too far from Yankee Stadium, have inched forward with community board approval, Crain’s  reports. Located right below Mill Pond Park and above the 145th Street Bridge, an empty four-acre lot could see the creation of 1,045 apartments (affordable and market-rate), commercial space, and more parkland. The land is owned by the city, and the Economic Development Corporation, which is leading the charge on the project, is hoping for a rezoning approval to move it forward forward. Local residents, however, have previously expressed hesitation because this lot was supposed to be converted into parkland fully, which was promised as part of a deal to build the new Yankee Stadium. However, the city may have expanded or further elaborated on their proposal by the time it presented the plans to the local community board this past week. The board approved the rezoning effort, which now also includes several acres of new parkland (previously only residential and commercial space had been mentioned). The proposal will now have to be voted on by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr., but the ultimate decision lies with the City Council, particularly Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, who represents the area. Local residents and activists unhappy with the project had previously approached her asking her to nix the initiative as it makes its way through the approvals process. But perhaps a promise of some new park space will change things? If the approvals process proves successful, the city will select a developer for this area known as Lower Concourse North. Massive Bronx waterfront site scores key approval [Crain’s] Promised South Bronx parkland could become affordable housing instead [Curbed] source