Lawmakers look to turn “ghost towers” into affordable housing

Proposed legislation to transform vacant luxury apartments in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill into affordable housing could become reality, as state lawmakers review the initiative, introduced a year ago by Assembly member Hakeem Jeffries. The program, Project Reclaim, would create affordable homes out of empty high-end condos for working and middle-class families who have been pushed out of their neighborhoods because of rising rents. Since lenders usually provide a second round of financing to developers once tenants start moving in, and developers in Fort Greene and Clinton Hill were unable to secure tenants, the region became overrun with stalled, empty buildings, the New York Times reported. So in order to change these “ghost towers” into affordable housing for the community, the State of New York Mortgage Agency has proposed providing mortgage insurance to potential new buyers of recently built, but vacant properties that are in foreclosure, at half the average cost. The catch is any buyers who participate in the program would be required to rent the luxury units at an affordable price if they want to pursue the insurance deal. “This is important because the main goal of it is to try to bring these buildings back into productive use, which is critical to the neighborhoods and the people who live there,” said Priscilla Almodovar, former CEO of the New York State Housing Finance Agency.

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