Assemblymember Vito Lopez secured a record $300 million for affordable housing programs in this year’s state budget, as Brooklyn housing organizations wait for the final allocations to be divvied out over the next few months.
“There’s never been this amount of funding in housing budget before,” said Steve Levin, chief of staff for Lopez and a candidate for City Council. “This is $200 million more than what has been allocated in the past. It’s a historic amount of money.”
The funding will be distributed across the state for Capital Assistance programs, the Mortgage Insurance Fund to help homeowners obtain subprime prevention services, and specific localities including Neighborhood Preservation Corporations (NPC) in New York and Rural Preservation Corporations upstate. Within the $100 million allocated for Capital Assistance programs, $60 million will be distributed to a Low-Income Housing Trust Fund, $45 million for affordable housing corporations to build affordable one to four-family homes, $36.5 million will go to homeless housing assistance programs, and $17.8 million for repairs and improvements to public housing developments.
Lopez’s office would not comment at this time about budget allocations towards specific organizations because they do not allocate the funds. Lopez did say that the $300 million state housing budget “will lead to an increase to the number of affordable housing units in Brooklyn as well as increased funding for Brooklyn's vital state housing programs.”
After the budget passed earlier this month, the money will be appropriated through a request for proposal process that the Department of Housing and Community Renewal will oversee, during which time specific programs in Brooklyn will obtain their allocated funding. Most organizations are expecting to hear how much funding they will receive by July 1, though sometimes the process gets delayed into August. Any funding is retroactive to July 1, 2008.
Among the North Brooklyn programs that could benefit from the budget allocations include the St. Nicholas Neighborhood NPC; the Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council (RBSCC), also an NPC; the Bushwick Economic Development Corporation, and the Hope Gardens Center facilities. NPCs across the state are expected to receive $3.5 million in next year’s budget, and $5 million has been budgeted for Main Street Program neighborhood improvements, for which RBSCC economic development officials submitted a grant application earlier this year concerning storefronts in Bushwick.
“The assemblyman has been the staunchest advocate for affordable housing and the staunchest defender for the neighborhood preservation program,” said Frank Lang, director of Housing at the St. Nicholas Neighborhood Preservation Corporation.
St. Nicholas NPC hopes to use any additional money they may receive to provide housing counseling and preservation for affordable housing in Williamsburg, including legal assistance for tenants facing eviction and other conflicts with their landlords.
“The program allows flexibility for needs in a particular area,” Lang said. “It is essential for us to have organizers and counselors to help residents stay in their neighborhoods. This will be a tremendous help for us.”