BY JACKIE STRAWBRIDGE
At the Queens Tribune and the PRESS of Southeast Queens’ Luxury and Affordable Housing Conference on Tuesday, Teresa Bainton explored some of the several diverse routes to making the City affordable.
Bainton is director of the New York Multifamily Hub of the U.S. Dept. of Housing and Urban Development. The agency’s primary goal, Bainton said, is “to serve the most vulnerable.”
In her keynote address, Bainton cited a number of HUD programs that put residents in affordable homes, including rental assistance, mortgage insurance and refinancing, low income housing tax credits and financing the construction of housing for the elderly.
Among the most popular HUD programs is Section 221(d)(4) mortgage insurance for new construction or substantial rehabilitation of rental housing, she said. This program is aimed for tenants who are working, but remain priced out of the rental apartment market.
HUD’s section 220 insures loans for multifamily housing projects in urban renewal areas and other areas where designated revitalization activities are in gear, and is therefore ideal for Southeast Queens where the conference was held, Bainton said.
Bainton also noted that within homes, HUD works to limit the use of lead-based paint through lead hazard control grants to ensure the safety of child residents.
Of HUD’s work in Queens particularly, Bainton said that the department provides more than 6,000 units of affordable housing through rental assistance programs, as well as money allocated for rehabilitation and recuperation in the wake of Superstorm Sandy.
“I think that HUD, in conjunction with our partners – developers, lenders, the City and the State – we have accomplished quite a bit as far as providing affordable housing throughout New York City and we hope to continue to do so,” Bainton said in a conversation with the Queens Tribune.
Bainton cited the cost of land and the cost of doing business as the primary obstacles to creating affordable housing in the City.
She also noted, “you want to ensure that housing is built to a certain standard, so there are codes that have to be followed, so it can be a little more expensive to build.”
HUD’s work involves not only funding the creation of new affordable housing units, but also preserving existing ones.
“I think you really have to do both,” Bainton said. “We have a greater opportunity to be able to preserve affordable housing because it’s already in existence, so that is very important to do, but there aren’t enough affordable units out there … so there has to be an emphasis on creating new units.”
Regarding her time as Multifamily Hub director, Bainton said one of her major accomplishments was in preserving affordable housing at Co-op City in the Bronx through refinancing with the mortgagee, Wells Fargo.
“It was a huge accomplishment in the sense of the number of units we saved and also provided additional rehab that the buildings needed,” she said.
She concluded her keynote, “I know that there’s a number of units that are going to be going up here in Queens, and we look forward to being able to work with you in order to achieve that goal.”
Bainton encouraged New Yorkers who are interested in learning more about getting into an affordable unit to call the Multifamily Hub’s office, as well as to visit the HUD website, www.hud.gov, where private properties with affordable housing opportunities are posted.
Reach Jackie Strawbridge at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 128, firstname.lastname@example.org or @JNStrawbridge.