Baychester, Murphy and Betances Houses get much-needed facelifts

Two NYCHA-owned Bronx sites that were in desperate need of repairs — including one that is more than a century old — recently received renovations.

On Feb. 17, NYCHA and the city’s Housing Development Corporation (HDC) announced the completion of two major rehabilitation efforts: first, Baychester and Murphy Houses by Camber Property Group, L+M Development Partners, and MBD Community Housing Corporation; second: Betances Houses by RDC, a joint venture between MDG Design + Construction and Wavecrest Management.

Both located in the Bronx, these PACT projects comprise 54 buildings totaling 1,810 units.

“I have lived at Betances Houses for many years and the improvements we have seen as a result of the RAD conversation are incredible,” said Giselle Gavin, resident association president at Betances Houses. “The development team listened to our concerns and made improvements that we’ve needed for years, which will positively impact residents for years to come. The residents and myself are so thankful to everyone involved, and are happy to call the new Betances our home.”

The projects were completed through NYCHA’s Permanent Affordability Commitment Together (PACT) program. A virtual ceremony commemorating the occasion featured NYCHA leadership, community and real estate partners, as well as resident testimonials on the engagement process and ground-up renovation.

The buildings – constructed between 1906 and 1974 – have largely suffered from decades of federal disinvestment. The Baychester/Murphy and Betances developments are home to an estimated 4,300 residents.

“PACT continues to be one of the best tools at our disposal to bring quality renovations and new job opportunities to NYCHA families throughout New York City,” said Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development Vicki Been. “The completion of construction at Baychester Houses, Murphy Houses, and Betances Houses will ensure that the residents of these vibrant communities have the better homes they deserve, and guarantees both the affordability and quality of those homes for generations to come.”

In addition to apartment renovations, the developments each received infrastructure and spatial redesign improvements, including roofing replacements, entry upgrades, façade repairs, nearly 11 acres of new walking paths throughout the twelve developments, social-gathering spaces, lawns, ball courts and thematic playgrounds – all designed to strengthen the community infrastructure of each site’s different community areas.

With the help of BronxWorks at Baychester and Murphy Houses and the Catholic Charities Archdiocese of New York at Betances, a core feature of each project involves developing and implementing comprehensive social services designed to empower residents and enhance their quality of life. Services offered across the sites include access to mental health clinics, youth employment programs, food pantries, emergency assistance programs and educational enrichment services.

“Providing an array of services to the residents of Baychester and Murphy Developments is a critical part of our mission, especially during these very difficult times,” said Eileen Torres, executive director of BronxWorks. “BronxWorks is grateful to both communities for establishing a trusted relationship with our staff and organization.  Whether we are assisting with employment search, tenant association meetings, or ensuring residents have access to essential resources, BronxWorks is proud to be the onsite social services partner.”

Through PACT, Baychester and Murphy Houses and Betances will convert to a more stable, federally funded program called Project-Based Section 8. This allows NYCHA to unlock funding to complete comprehensive repairs, while also ensuring homes remain permanently affordable and residents have the same basic rights as they possess in the public housing program.

“This initiative has provided us with an opportunity to preserve nearly 1,000 units of desperately-needed affordable housing in the Bronx while also transforming residents’ quality of life with newly-srenovated apartments and modern, efficient amenities,” said Ayanna Oliver-Taylor, senior director at L+M Development Partners. “We are grateful to have partnered with NYCHA to find solutions for the critical issue of housing affordability, especially at the lowest income levels, and are committed to a long-term resident engagement strategy. We thank our partners Camber Property Group and MBD Community Housing Corporation for their support in this important effort to deliver results for the residents of the Baychester and Murphy Houses.” 

Since December 2018, the HDC has served as a key financing partner on PACT. In addition to assembling the financing, HDC provides ongoing asset management and compliance for PACT transactions.

Baychester and Murphy Houses were some of the last housing developments in the nation to benefit from the U.S. Treasury Federal Financing Bank (FFB) & HUD Risk-Sharing Program – a recently expired program that helps finance affordable housing. FFB has helped to finance more than 4,400 affordable homes in New York City and 25,000 affordable homes across the nation.

The city is hopeful this program will be reinstated at the federal level to make more developmental rehabilitations possible.

 

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