Serrano Organizes Island Housing Forum

José M. Serrano

February 08, 2007

The Senator hosted a Roosevelt Island Housing Forum on Thursday night. In response to concerns raised by residents involving the future of Mitchell-Lama and affordable housing on the island, he assembled a panel of experts from both government agencies and non-profit organizations.

"We need to do everything we can to maintain affordability on Roosevelt Island," said the Senator. "An essential part of that process is making sure island residents have all available information and resources at their disposal."

The forum addressed concerns relating to the island’s four original Mitchell-Lama housing complexes: Westview, Island House, Rivercross and Eastwood. The first three still remain subsidized by the state, while the latter was opted-out of the program last year.

The Roosevelt Island Operating Corporation was represented on the panel by its community relations specialist, Erica Wilder, and real estate consultant, Paul Mas.

Also on hand were officials from the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal (DHCR), the coordinating agency for island Mitchell-Lamas.

Urmas Naeris, a senior Vice President at the New York City Housing Development Corporation (HDC), presented his agency’s Mitchell-Lama Coop Conversion Plan, which offers building owners and tenants a unique way to opt-out of the program while maintaining affordability.

Representatives from the non-profit community included Amy Tan, a Mitchell-Lama organizer at Tenants & Neighbors, and Ellen Davidson, a staff attorney at the Legal Aid Society. They were joined by Sue Susman, President of the Central Park Gardens Tenants Association, and author of the "Mitchell-Lama Tenant’s Buyout Handbook."

"This island community was envisioned as a place where hard-working families can afford to live and raise their children," said the Senator. "I will continue working hard to ensure that vision remains a reality."