Residents at 520 E. 156th Street are seeing the results of the NYC Housing Authority’s Permanent Affordability Commitment Together, or PACT, program.
It is based on President Obama’s Rental Assistance Demonstration program.
The program is a way for NYCHA to make improvements to public housing and obtain funding for those improvements.
One portion of the PACT program is partnering with private companies to renovate Section 8 housing.
At the property known as the Bronxchester Houses, NYCHA partnered with L+M Development.
NYCHA chairwoman Shola Olatoye said these types of partnerships provide funding and resources to the department that they would otherwise not have.
At this particular building, upgrades are noticeable as soon as residents step into the building.
The walls no longer have a yellow cinderblock look.
Instead, they look tiled with brushstrokes of gray and white paint.
In addition, pipes in the hallways are no longer green but are now painted white.
In the apartments, residents now have central air. In addition they have energy efficient stoves and new cupboards.
In the bathrooms there have also been upgrades to the showers and sinks.
Olatoye said some of the buildings in the program have not been upgraded for more than 30 years.
Patricia Lamonde, tenant association leader and 33-year resident of the Bronxchester houses echoed Olatoye’s sentiments.
She emphasized the word ‘years’ when asked how long residents had been waiting for repairs.
Lamonde also beamed at Bronxchester’s new outdoor facilities, saying the neighbors in the apartments next door are now trying to get over to her building to use those facilties.
Previously in the back of the building, there was mainly cracked concrete slabs. In addition there was only one slide for the kids to play on.
Now, there is a green space in the center of the new facilities. Also, there are new swings and a basketball court with bleachers.
Lisa Gomez, chief operating officer at L+M Development, said she knows that at times it can be a scary situation for residents when they hear a new developer and new management is coming to their building.
She said ‘it is natural’ for them to be anxious about change.
However, the company is ‘proud’ when they see families enjoying the new facilities such as the renovated courtyard and community garden.
Gomez also said she had met some of the residents who were skeptical of the plan.
She said now those residents are “extremely supportive” and pleased with the finished product.
Gomez, like Olatoye, believes the Bronxchester renovations are a picture of what a public/private partnership can achieve.
NYCHA is hoping to upgrade 5,200 units across the Bronx, Manhattan and Brooklyn within the next three to four years.
Currently, NYCHA is working to upgrade 1,400 units at the Ocean Bay Apartments in Averne.