Tenants of the Bronx recently prevailed after their long struggle against unsafe and unlivable housing conditions.
On Thursday, December 4, tenants of the now Phoenix Estates LLC, formerly Hunt’s Point 1, gathered at 739 Coster Street, with representatives from The Community Preservation Corporation, Phoenix Estate Housing Development Fund Corporation, and elected officials to celebrate the groundbreaking for the renovation of the apartment complex.
A joint venture of New York ACORN Housing Company, Inc. and We Stay/Nos Quedamos, Inc., the Phoenix Estates, LLC took ownership of the buildings after foreclosure by the U.S. Department of Housing & Urban Development due to poor management.
“One of the most dreadful scenarios we face is having rent-paying families forced from their homes because of ownership’s mis-management,” noted Ismene Speliotis, executive director of NY ACORN Housing Co. and Mutual Housing Association of New York. “In this case the property has been neglected to the point where foreclosure was the only option.”
Tenants described living in conditions during the winter, when there was no heat, of apartment temperatures dropping as low as 12 degrees and no hot water available.
“We went through Hell here. This struggle has been going on over three years, and has involved a lot of door knocking, meeting in hallways, and in homes,” said Millie Colon, president of the United We Stand Tenants Association for 25 years.
According to Colon, one of the hardest parts was getting residents to speak up, who despite horrific conditions, were fearful of their previous owners.
CPC, along with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, will be providing a $ 13.3 million construction loan for rehabilitation of the properties, which also include 717-719 and 741 Coster Street and 671 Manida Street.
“The United We Stand Tenants Association is very thankful to Commissioner Donovan, CPC, ACORN, Nos Quedamos, Enterprise, and all partners. We also want to thank Congressman Jose Serrano for his devoted attention in making this happen,” noted Colon. “We look forwards to keeping open lines of communication for the betterment of our homes.”
Rehabilitation on the homes includes new kitchens, new apartment entry and unit doors, floor repairs, new plumbing fixtures, new windowsills, and electrical system upgrades. The exterior walls will be cleaned along with the courtyard and rear and side of the buildings. New lighting and security system will be installed, and the roof replaced.
Apartment units are being repaired in small groups, relocating the residents to other apartments within the building during construction, as to create as little inconvenience as possible for residents.
“The Phoenix Estates will live up to its name,” noted Shaun Donovan, HPD Commissioner. “These renovations will transform this once troubled property into a remarkable asset in this already thriving community.”
©2008 Community News Group