Clinton Housing Development Company (CHDC) who we are
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Clinton Housing Development Company, Founded 1973

Mission Statement

Clinton Housing Development Company (CHDC) builds community by preserving and creating high quality, permanently affordable housing in the Clinton/Hell’s Kitchen and Chelsea neighborhoods on the West Side of Manhattan. We integrate community, cultural and green spaces into developments and provide consulting services for larger community initiatives.

We collaborate with neighborhood and citywide stakeholders in both the public and private sectors. CHDC developments promote diversity and economic integration by respecting and valuing the people, history and physical character of the community.

History

In 1973, CHDC was founded by volunteer community residents to preserve and protect the historic Hell's Kitchen/Clinton community. At that time, the community was faced with land speculation created by a proposed convention center, resulting in buildings being vacated and demolished, displacing long-term neighborhood residents. After the City's fiscal crisis in 1975, with the demise of the convention center project, the real estate market reversed and owners abandoned hundreds of properties, leaving tenants without basic services.

The City of New York was not prepared to manage hundreds of apartments in deteriorated buildings. New strategies were needed.

Early Efforts in Housing Development and Renovation

In 1975, the renovation and cooperative conversion of a small 8 apartment old law tenement became CHDC's first project. The plans for the city-owned building at 433 West 48th Street were developed jointly with its tenants, and funded by New York City's Municipal Loan Program in that same year. At a cost of $150,000, it was one of the first two Municipal Loan projects completed in the city.

In the fall of 1977, at the request of the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, CHDC entered into the Community Management Program. It began to provide management services to 66 families in an 8 building blockfront on 10th Avenue, between 46th and 47th Streets. These tenements, which had been taken by the City for the owner's failure to pay real estate taxes, were in terrible condition. With the initial funds provided by the Community Management Program, CHDC hired a small administrative staff and maintenance crew, with the goal of stabilizing the buildings, renovating them and working with the tenants to create a low- and moderate-income cooperative. Unfortunately, Community Management renovation funds were slow in coming.

The lack of funds, combined with the high cost, in 1977 terms, of renovating Old Law Tenements (constructed pre-1901) to meet modern building code standards, left CHDC in a holding pattern unable to complete its goals. By early 1980, CHDC was managing 19 buildings containing 203 units, all in the same position. In 1983, the logjam was broken and CHDC was granted funding under US Department of Housing and Urban Development newly enacted 510 Demonstration Program, a federally funded initiative for home ownership in urban areas geared to low- and moderate-income families.

The program, which linked the financing of Section 8 Rental Housing to the financing of affordable cooperative ownership for low- and moderate-income families, required a joint venture with a developer. In response, CHDC joined with Settlement Housing Fund and Related Housing to create a special purpose organization. The project encompassed gut renovation of 6 vacant buildings on West 47th and 48th Streets creating 88 rental units; the original 8 buildings on 10th Avenue became 50 units of low- and moderate-income cooperatives. The focus of both components was on production of family size apartments. Finally, in December 1983, after six years of complicated negotiations with federal, state and city officials, CHDC assisted the 10th Avenue tenants in closing on the cooperative purchase of the original eight Community Management Program buildings, becoming one of only three groups nationwide to successfully complete a 510 Demonstration Project.

Following that success and with new availability of Community Management funds administered through the City's housing agency, CHDC turned its attention to the remaining Community Management buildings on West 45th, 47th and 48th Streets. Over an eight-year period beginning in 1984, CHDC completed reconstruction of 12 Community Management buildings. The scopes of work were extensive, from installing full bathrooms, to major structural work including replacement of public hall staircases. CHDC's work now encompassed rehab planning and packaging, contracting and public bidding for construction, and construction supervision. With each new project CHDC refined its expertise in rehabilitation of occupied buildings.

Establishment of Neighborhood Management Services

In its continuing evolution as a community-based organization, CHDC turned its attention to strengthening and expanding its capacity in building management services. In 1982, it established its Neighborhood Management Services (NMS) to provide community based property management services to the 510 Demonstration Project buildings it had renovated. NMS, which was fully operational by 1984, became an increasing part of daily work. CHDC offered building management services on a full or part-time basis. Services included an in-house maintenance crew, contracting for routine and emergency repairs, rent billing and collection, arrears negotiations, initiating legal actions, and mediating tenant disputes.

In 1989 and 1990 CHDC doubled its client base. In 1991 9 buildings containing 74 units were added. By 1997, 58 buildings with 572 units were receiving services. The wide client base attested to CHDC's management arm's expertise: 21 buildings owned by low-income, limited-equity Tenant Cooperatives; 8 buildings directly leased to CHDC by the City; 3 buildings leased to Tenant Associations by the City; a 3-building SRO complex under court stipulation; 1 privately-owned SRO as 7A Administrator; 2 privately owned condos; a 3-building Single Room Occupancy (SRO) complex; a 5-building SRO complex; a 7-building complex owned by CHDC affiliates; and 5 buildings in city-sponsored, homeless-housing program.

Community Stabilization and Preservation

Drug activity has long plagued the Clinton neighborhood. In the mid 80's, the neighborhood was still the province of ensconced long-term community residents, and on certain blocks, was openly tolerated by the police. Tenants, fearful for their lives and safety, chose a path of accommodation. This combination of factors made organizing to rid buildings and blocks of drugs an impossible task. In 1986, a young West 48th Street Tenant Association officer was brutally shot in a CHDC managed building. Thankfully, she survived; however, this incident galvanized the tenant body and the block. CHDC, now backed by a great deal of community involvement and police enforcement, commenced a series of coordinated drug evictions on 48th Street. Within 9 months, major drug dealing on that block was brought to an end. That success brought to CHDC, in 1987, a notorious 5-building SRO complex on the corner of Restaurant Row for the same type of coordinated action. After a two-year effort involving 29 legal actions and eventual evictions, the source of drug dealing and prostitution was eliminated. A series of similar coordinated actions at 506-508 9th Avenue in 1990 removed a center of drug activity on 9th Avenue and West 38th Street. In 1994, at the request of the City of New York, CHDC assumed management of 353 and 355 W 30th Street. Both buildings were home to dozens of drug dealers, presenting a constant danger and seriously affecting the quality of life on the entire block. After 18 months of drug evictions the buildings were stabilized in 1995, and major structural repair work was conducted at 353 W 30th Street.

The Development Team

In 1985, the approval of the Times Square Redevelopment project by the State and the City of New York established the $25,000,000 Clinton Preservation Fund. The Fund focused on the financing of the renovation of city-owned buildings and the acquisition of privately owned buildings to create affordable tenant ownership. With funds supplied equally by the Governor and Mayor, managed by a community based advisory committee, the Fund had a major impact on the Clinton neighborhood and CHDC as an organization. In 1987, to address the Fund's goals, CHDC created its Development Team to assist tenant associations to renovate and/or purchase their buildings. The Clinton Preservation Fund funded the Team for 3 years. Rehab activity was dramatically increased by $2,050,000 in Clinton Preservation Fund grants awarded to CHDC. Development Team staff packaged not only rehab plans but also now began to work on complicated acquisition financing packages. Tenant Associations were assisted in assembling grants, long and short term loans necessary to bring buildings out of mortgage foreclosure, estates or bankruptcy into tenant ownership. Legal representation was handled on pro bono basis by large law firms such as Weil, Gotshal & Manges; Paul, Weiss, Rifkind, Wharton & Garrison; Kramer, Levin, Nessen, Kamin & Frankel; and Schulte, Roth & Zabel. From 1988 to 1997, 12 rehabs were packaged, financed, monitored during construction and completed. Feasibility studies and pro formas were run on 9 projects and 12 buildings were acquired.

The Path to Casework

The concentrated amount of renovation led to new problems. For the most part, renovation was done with tenants in place. Temporary relocation, if any, was within a building, in one or two vacant apartments. Bathrooms and kitchens were shared for the duration of renovation. The disruption to tenant's lives was immediate and immense. However, to seniors and the mentally ill, it was devastating. At 353 West 47th Street, the 78 year old building officer, who led the Tenant Association in its fight to secure renovation funding, was the same man who stopped construction dead cold for over a year. When actually faced with such drastic change, the fear of that change led this man to refuse access to allow the job to proceed. In 1990, to reconcile the goals of building renovation and special needs tenants, CHDC created a casework position. The caseworker focused intensively on social services to meet the needs of CHDC's most troubled tenants.

A time consuming and caring effort resulted in the major cleaning of 14 "Collier" apartments, the restoration of benefits to 29 persons, and the securing of 8 home attendants. Not only were the concrete accomplishments important, but also was the emphasis on linking these troubled people to their neighbors. The caseworker worked with the Tenant Associations to demystify their neighbors or problems, and to set up a structure of neighbors in the building to provide ongoing support.

Social Service Partnerships

In 1991, CHDC began to enter into partnerships with social service organizations to create new housing for special needs and homeless populations. All projects being developed were integrated housing, combining social service needy populations with an existing or new low and moderate-income population.

CHDC's first such partnership sponsored 5 buildings under the New York City Special Initiatives Program (SIP) creating new housing for homeless families, first with the Partnership for the Homeless, then later with Metro Baptist Church. With Fountain House and Self Help Housing, two groups who work with the mentally ill and seniors, respectively, providing social services, CHDC developed 55 units of Shared Apartments on West 35th Street for singles, for both homeless and community residents. With services provided by the Episcopal Mission Society of New York and St. Luke's Church, CHDC developed 300 W 46th Street, as integrated housing for persons with HIV-AIDS and homeless individuals. In 1995, the project became the first HIV-AIDS housing to be developed in Clinton.

As the neighborhood changed CHDC responded to those changes. In 1973, our objective was solely to empower residents through tenant ownership and self-management. By 1991, faced with the unique needs and circumstances of the homeless, mentally ill, elderly, and physically incapacitated, CHDC served as both a housing resource and the essential link to available social services.

The Chelsea Initiative

In 1992, CHDC expanded its catchment area to encompass the entire Manhattan Community Board #4 district. It now covers the area from 14th Street to 26th Street, West of 6th Avenue; and 27th Street to 57th Street, West of 8th Avenue. In 1994, Clinton Housing was qualified to participate in HPD's Neighborhood Redevelopment/TIL Pilot Programs. Those program goals are to remove the City from the housing management business by turning over occupied city-owned buildings to community-based not-for-profits to renovate and to create affordable rental or cooperative housing. Organizing efforts began in late 1996, and CHDC started leasing these buildings from the City in February 1997. CHDC has developed 3 buildings through this initiative.

Community Building in Hell's Kitchen

The portion of Clinton between 34th and 42nd Streets, the heart of the old Hell's Kitchen, is woefully lacking in basic community amenities. Cut up by ramps leading to the Port Authority Bus Terminal and the Dyer approaches to the Lincoln Tunnel, the area has over 6000 people living in residential buildings dispersed throughout a former manufacturing zone. A combination of tenements and lofts, Hell's Kitchen homes represent extremes from 5th floor walkups with tubs in the kitchen to the 4000 square foot designer lofts. CHDC has sought to bring amenities and focus to this mixed-use area of the neighborhood.

Clinton South Community Center
In a storefront in one of the SIP buildings on West 37th Street and 10th Avenue, CHDC opened the Clinton South Community Center in 1993. The goals of the Center were to integrate the homeless families into the community, and provide a safe place for neighborhood children to play and learn. Starting small, the Center had after school programs such as arts and crafts, theater lessons, aerobics, trips to museums, movie and discussion nights, swimming, nutrition and cooking classes for parents. From 1994 to 1999, a summer day camp--"Finding Your Place in the Neighborhood"-- was attended by 40 kids. In 2002, the Community Center became home to the Urban Dove, an after school program that serves high school students.

Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association
Organized out of the Clinton South Community Center, by CHDC staff, the Hell's Kitchen Neighborhood Association (HKNA) is a block association covering the blocks from West 34th Street to West 42nd Street between 8th to 10th Avenues. With membership representative of the community, its concerns are quality of life issues such as drug dealing, sanitation, green-space and zoning. The Association has run itself for over 11 years with many active committees. It has been a main participant in neighborhood planning, sponsoring the "Hell's Kitchen Conference" at the Javits Convention Center and proposing alternatives to the City's development plans for the Westside.

Creating Open Space

In spring 1995, CHDC opened Bob's Park, a small key park built on a vacant lot that is a part of the 454 West 35th Street supportive housing development. This park is the first new parkland built in this part of the neighborhood since 1938. The park is both oriented to toddlers and senior citizens, with play equipment set in sand in the front and raised gardens and seating in the rear. Keys are available for $1.25 from Manhattan Community Board #4. There are over 260 key holders. CHDC and HKNA also worked to establish a Dog Run and Community Garden on small lots leased from the Port Authority. CHDC then began to integrate open space development into all its renovation projects. All current and planned projects now include landscaped courtyards, roof and/or community gardens.

Resolving the deadlock on the Clinton Urban Renewal Area

Established in 1969, this 6 block area in the West 50's between 10th and 11th Avenue. After development of federally funded housing in late 70's and early 80's, it remained in limbo from 1982 to 1994. Since fall 1995, CHDC has assisted various community stakeholders in the development plans for the Clinton Urban Renewal Area.

As part of an agreement with Manhattan Community Board #4 regarding the siting of sanitation garage, the City agreed to put a 6-building complex into the TIL program for renovation and conversion to a low and moderate-income cooperative. However, the complex required more extensive work than anticipated. In 1996 CHDC formed a partnership with its tenant association to bring more investment into the project through low-income housing tax credits. This complex was renovated into 43 apartments and 4 stores and completed in 2000.

Since 1999, CHDC has actively participated in Clinton Urban Renewal Area Coordinating Committee (the Triple "C" Committee). This consortium of neighborhood organizations worked together to develop an overall development plan for this neglected area. From 1999 to 2004 more developments received funding commitments or began construction than in the previous 30 years. CHDC projects include the renovation of an historic model tenement and school facing Dewitt Clinton Park on 11th Avenue, and 5 buildings for moderate income rentals. Currently two middle-income developments are in the planning stages.

Attracting Private Equity through Inclusionary Housing

Since 1999, CHDC has partnered with private developers to develop a number of buildings throughout the Chelsea/Hell's Kitchen/Clinton area to produce affordable housing through zoning mechanisms. The main tool, Inclusionary Housing, is a zoning provision which lets private developers transfer development rights earned by building affordable housing. Those development rights are used to produce market rate housing at greater densities at one or multiple sites. The inclusionary buildings remain affordable rental housing in perpetuity for existing tenants and low-income residents.

Using both mandatory requirements or voluntary incentives, CHDC has developed 64 inclusionary apartments in 7 buildings, resulting in $15.7 million of investment in affordable housing in the Clinton/Hell's Kitchen Community. Our development pipeline has Inclusionary projects in 6 buildings at 4 sites, which will produce 103 affordable apartments.

Hell's Kitchen/Hudson Yards Alliance - balancing citywide growth and neighborhood preservation

CHDC has always taken an active role in shaping the present and future development of the neighborhood. Since the inception of plans for a football stadium for the New York Jets over Hudson Yards on the riverfront in Hell's Kitchen, CHDC has supported progressive and reasonable neighborhood development. A stadium was inconsistent sustainable development in Clinton. Balancing the extension of the Midtown Central Business District with strengthening residential neighborhood of the middle west side was clearly a better choice to welcome New Yorkers of all incomes to the area's planned future.

CHDC was a founding member of the Hell's Kitchen/Hudson Yards Alliance. The Alliance is an umbrella group composed of elected officials, community organizations, block and tenant associations, housing cooperatives, business owners and individuals formed to provide a coordinated community response to the City's far-reaching development plan. The Alliance has succeeded in securing major changes to the zoning plan and the inclusion of an affordable housing component.

The football stadium plan ultimately failed after the Mayor and his planning staff failed to win the public opinion war over the future of the West Side. Coupled with the city's failed bid for the 2012 Olympics, the demise of the controversial and reviled stadium plan has allowed for balanced and rational planning to begin the MTA rail yards.