TERMITE HOUSING GETS FACELIFT

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A Brooklyn nonprofit will soon embark on a $3 million effort to renovate a half-dozen termite-ridden, rundown buildings for 46 low-income families in Red Hook and Carroll Gardens.

The city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development currently owns the buildings and has let them deteriorate badly over the years: two of them are termite-infested and one was built illegally with windowless bedrooms. Previous city-backed efforts to gussy up the property have failed.

Under the rehab plan, which was okayed by the City Council on April 30, HPD will transfer ownership to the Carroll Gardens Association for $1 per building. The CGA will then begin the systemic renovation with funding from the Enterprise Foundation and its parent company, the New York Equity Fund. To bankroll the massive repairs, the foundation and the fund are soliciting corporate investors. So far they have raised $1.5 million.

The group is planning to replace most of the buildings’ floors, kitchens, bathrooms, boilers, wiring and staircases. Contractors, who will be hired later, will also install windows in all of the bricked-in bedrooms.

HPD has tried to complete the transfer as soon as possible, using a zoning-law loophole which allows them to bypass community board review. Only the Mayor’s approval is still required–and the administration is expected to give the go-ahead this summer.

Because some tenants in the affected buildings hadn’t been told much about the project, many were afraid they would be evicted after their apartments were finally made habitable. But developers ruled that scenario out at an April 21 meeting called by concerned Community Board 6 members.

“We want to stress that no existing tenant will be evicted,” John Ducey, finance officer of the Enterprise Foundation, told City Limits. Once the repairs begin, tenants will be temporarily shifted to other apartments within the cluster, according to CB6 District Manager Craig Hammerman. Eventually, everyone will return to their old residences.

Each building has six to eight units located on three or four floors; approximately half are currently occupied. Eventually, eight or ten of the vacant units will be rented at market price; the rest will be rented to low-income tenants, with rents not exceeding 30 percent of their income.