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As affordable housing disappears, so could diversity

The Riverwalk Commons apartment buildings on Roosevelt Island,

The Riverwalk Commons apartment buildings on Roosevelt Island, Monday, May 11, 2015 Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

The Island has four Mitchell-Lama affordable housing buildings constructed as part of a New York State program established in 1955 to promote affordable housing; it is supervised by the State's Division of Housing and Community Renewal ("DHCR").

Three of these four buildings have already gone through a "buy-out" process which occurs when the project pays off its mortgage and is removed from DHCR's supervision as a Mitchell-Lama.

Under the law, a Mitchell-Lama has the right to "buy out" after 20 years.

Three of the buildings on the Island have already gone through the process. The largest of them became a market rate rental, another became a market rate co-op and the third is in the process of converting to an affordable co-op.

Residents of the fourth building, a rental, are still in talks about its future. If tenants vote to go co-op (which seems to be a distinct possibility) everyone who lives in the building will have to decide whether to buy, remain as a renter or take a buy-out offer. 

But residents say they are saddened to lose the diversity that comes with having affordable housing on the island.

aMany of us, both in rentals and in co-ops, worry about how the changeover from the Mitchell-Lama model will affect the islandas demographics,aOlya Turcihin, who has lived on Roosevelt Island since 1977, said. aWill it still be an Island with a diversity of income, mobility, age, ethnicity and race? I certainly hope so."



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