Rental property owners are receiving assistance from a charitable organization in Bronx

New York City, NY: The residents of a four-story building in East New York’s Cypress Hill neighborhood are the target of an innovative housing program run by a Brooklyn community organization that aims to do just that.

Just over $3 million was spent late last month by the East New York Community Land Trust on the 21-unit rent-stabilized Arlington Avenue apartment building. The trust intends to assist tenants in making the conversion to co-op units in the future. The “community land trust” plan entails a nonprofit organization owning the land below and homeowners or tenants leasing it out at permanently inexpensive prices. One catch, though: residents can’t make a killing off the sale of their apartments in the future. This keeps the prices low for everyone.

Coming at a time when investors and property owners are contemplating selling stabilized apartments due to growing expenses and rent controls, which are restricting revenues and renovations, a community land trust has become the first entity in New York City to acquire an apartment building from a private landlord. The strategy has been hailed by Governor Kathy Hochul and other prominent figures as a means to maintain affordable housing; nonetheless, the Brooklyn transaction serves as a crucial litmus test for the model’s potential to expand throughout the five boroughs.

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According to Santos, in June of last year, his group approached the building’s prior owner—an LLC associated with investor Philip Knoll—about purchasing the property. In as little as a few months, Knoll was ready to talk about the concept and negotiate the sale.

In recent years, property values on this street have skyrocketed, and the four-story skyscraper stands tall among the elegant two-family homes. Across Fulton Avenue to the south are the elevated J and Z rail tracks, while to the north is the verdant Highland Park.

According to Eva Marte, a first-floor tenant, she is quite happy with her home and area.

As Marte put it, “This is a building with a great foundation and history,” referring to his 17-year tenure here. Many of the current residents have been here for many years; many have brought up their families here, therefore the place is filled with sentimental value.

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Residents agree to a resale formula that allows them to earn some money from the property, but they can’t sell their homes for high prices later on. This is a vital aspect of the deal. The units will always be affordable for low- and middle-income households, according to Will Spisak, a senior program associate with the New Economy Project. The Community Land Trust (CLT) network in New York City is coordinated by his organization.

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