Goodybe 2011: A year in Review

For those of you new to this blog or trying to get a handle on Predatory Equity in New York City – here’s your down-and-dirty year in review.

Highlights, Lowlights, and the Stuff in Between:

1. Lowlight: In April 2011, New York Affordable Housing Associates sold eight  distressed buildings to Bronx VIII LLC (Townhouse Management). While we still don’t know how much Townhouse paid for the buildings, the disappointing transaction was facilitated by New York Community Bank – who explicitly sold the debt to a developer the tenants did not endorse.

2. Somewhere In Between: In May of 2011, Finkelstein Timberger Real Estate bought the infamous ten building Milbank portfolio for the giant sum of $30 Million dollars. This transaction, which still reeks of over leveraging, was made through financing with Signature Bank. Fortunately for tenants, their advocacy throughout the process meant that all of the tenants are protected by an agreement to ensure repairs, eliminate the quest for back-rent, and cap the amount for potential MCI’s in the next two years. Additionally, six of the buildings entered the city’s Alternative Enforcement Program, ensuring further protection from the horrible conditions these tenants suffered for years.

3.  Highlight: In May 2011, after two years in foreclosure, the tenants at Borinquen Court in the Bronx had their building purchased by the non-profit organization West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing. It was a a hard earned victory and the tenants are looking forward to living in a building with the owner they chose!

4. Somewhere-In-Between: Rent regulation was extended in June 2011! The “grand compromise” however has many complaining about the fact that  rent-regulated affordable housing has not been permanently preserved due to the fact that vacancy decontrol is still in effect.

5. Lowlight: In September 2011, The Bluestone Group sold a group of six dilapidated Bronx buildings to Anthony Gazivoda for a whopping $17 Million dollars. This made for the fourth over leveraging of this severely distressed portfolio.

6. Highlight: In September 2011, 1520 Sedgewick (AKA the “Birthplace of Hip Hop”) was saved! With tenant endorsement, Winn Residential and Workforce Housing Advisors purchased the building with an extensive rehab scope and permanent affordability plan to accompany the acquisition!

It was a busy year fighting for decent conditions and permanent affordability in New York City housing. UHAB organizers, tenants, and allies are still actively fighting to against over leveraging, bad conditions, negligent landlords, and against the banking industry’s bottom-line, top-dollar mentality. As Predatory Equity becomes a clearer and more understood trend,  we sincerely hope that our 2012 year in review will hold fewer lowlights and many more highlights as we continue to develop new tools to fight this rapacious phenomenon.

See you in 2012! We have a feeling it will be a great year!


Daily News: “Irate tenants accuse Bluestone Group of ignoring slum conditions just like previous landlord.”

This morning, we wrung our hands and wracked our brains trying to make sense of the deal that Gazivoda Realty struck with Hudson Valley Bank and the Bluestone Group. As we stared at each other around our conference room, the Daily News published this article.

Daniel Beekman interviewed Andres Rios, tenant at 1585 E. 172nd street. Andres’s fury, and simple desire for a safe, livable home, strengthens our conviction that this deal does not make sense, and that the debt-dumping must be stopped. 

When the Bluestone Group bought the debt of six Bronx slums 15 months ago, it promised to fix up the rotten buildings and make life bearable there.

But tenant advocates warned that the Manhattan-based company had overpaid and was looking to make a quick buck.

Last week, Bluestone sold the debt for a handsome profit and walked away.

Now the tenements that sent slumlord Sam Suzuki to jail in June 2010 have their fourth owner in three years.

“You gotta to be careful who you invite to your house,” said Andres Rios, a tenant at 1585 E. 172nd St. in Bronx River. “Or the devil will bite you.”

Read more at The Daily News.