Partnerships Create Affordable Housing and Job Opportunities
Demolition of the 203 Ludlam Avenue property in Southampton, New York. In September 2011, the Southampton Housing Authority (SHA) announced a partnership with the nonprofit community group YouthBuild to redevelop an affordable housing unit in the town of Southampton, New York. The building is one of several properties transferred to Southampton from Suffolk County under the county’s Affordable Housing Opportunities Program, also known as the 72-H program.
72-H Program in Suffolk County Creates New Housing
In a first-ever collaboration, YouthBuild joins SHA in rehabilitating a property acquired by SHA under the County’s 72-H program. YouthBuild, a community impact initiative of United Way of Long Island, enrolls students between 16 and 24 years old in a 9-month program to learn trade skills, including those in the green and retrofit industry. Located in the Riverside community of the Town of Southampton, the 203 Ludlam Avenue property is a single-family residence with three bedrooms and two bathrooms. SHA will rent the house (with the option to own) for owner-occupancy to a family with a median household income no greater than 80 percent of the area median income (AMI), currently $84,900 for a family of four. Students are currently working on a gut rehabilitation and deep-energy retrofit of the house. Work is slated for completion by February 2012.
Since its introduction in 2002, Suffolk County’s 72-H program (named after New York State General Municipal Law §72-h) has been used extensively to provide affordable housing to young people, returning veterans, and families. Under the municipal rule, Suffolk County may transfer ownership of properties seized because of delinquent taxes to a village or town, as long as the property is developed for affordable housing (defined as 80% of AMI for owner occupancy, although a waiver may be granted for applicants earning up to 120% of AMI). As of August 2011, Suffolk County has transferred or is currently transferring ownership of more than 300 parcels to organizations such as the Long Island Housing Partnership, Habitat for Humanity, and Economic Opportunity Council of Suffolk for affordable housing. In Southampton, properties have been distributed to organizations such as SHA and the nonprofit Southampton Business Alliance for affordable housing development.
Meeting Challenges with Community Partnerships
The 203 Ludlam Avenue site presented unique challenges compared with other 72-H parcels, says SHA Assistant Director Ann Gajowski, because the house needed significant repairs. YouthBuild, which has rehabilitated other 72-H properties in nearby townships, took on the task of total rehabilitation with the help of funds from the Community Development Block Grant program and SHA. “We rebuilt the house from the inside to the outside,” says Rick Wertheimer, vice president of housing and green initiatives at United Way. The house needed new roofing, siding, doors, and interior materials. To improve energy efficiency, the house was rebuilt with deeper attic insulation; constructed with green, nontoxic materials; and fitted with high-efficiency heating and cooling systems. Wertheimer projected energy savings of nearly 40 percent annually.
The collaboration between YouthBuild and SHA offers special advantages in community building and engagement. The YouthBuild students working on 203 Ludlam Avenue are local low-income youths who were previously unemployed. “The students feel even more connected to [their] neighborhood when they get to rehabilitate properties in their communities that are 72-H properties,” explains Wertheimer. He added that in his experience, YouthBuild properties are less likely to be vandalized than other development properties because of community buy-in. YouthBuild students are also paid a small stipend for their work on properties. This approach also satisfies HUD funding requirements to employ local workers in construction projects by hiring YouthBuild students.
“It’s a win-win situation,” says Wertheimer. “The 72-H program provides affordable, durable, sustainable, housing that helps the bottom line for the Authority to control energy costs.” YouthBuild and SHA are currently planning additional projects for collaboration under the 72-H program.