Thursday, April 07, 2005

Residents, Officials Celebrate End to Long Ownership Battle

Residents, Officials Celebrate End to Long Ownership Battle

Columbia Spectator


Residents, Officials Celebrate End to Long Ownership Battle
by Deborah Brown
Spectator Staff Writer

April 07, 2005

The senior citizen residents of the Logan Gardens apartment complex in West Harlem enjoyed a victory celebration with Mayor Bloomberg and other local elected officials last night after their success in bringing responsible ownership to the building. The event, in the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building on 125th St., came as a result of a team effort from residents and community leaders to end a nine-month ownership battle.

Logan Gardens residents, who suffered from heatless winters and haphazard repairs, played an integral role in the transfer of the title of their building to the housing group Community Assisted Tenant Controlled Housing Inc. CATCH is expected to provide much needed repairs to the building, bringing residents confidence about the future of their homes. St. Philip’s Housing Development Fund Corporation was the former owner.

“I’m so happy we’ve redeemed our building, our home, our lives and dignity,” resident Patricia Lewis said.

Stephanie Alves, another tenant who was a member of the tenant’s steering committee, said, “We got what we needed, I expect the best from CATCH.”

Though she has no concerns about the future of the building, Alves said she will be going to court with the past owner on Friday. For over two years she had no heat.

Bloomberg, who stopped in briefly on his way to Rome for the Pope’s funeral, congratulated residents on their success and addressed the greater problems of housing and unemployment in New York City. “I hope you all enjoy the home you fought to keep and help others do the same,” he said.

Noting that housing prices in the city have doubled in the past three years, Bloomberg pointed to his plan of putting $3 billion of funding into housing stock. His goal is to provide housing for people who are the “heart and soul” of this city.

Part of another plan to combat unemployment is the creation of new jobs through construction projects, namely the proposed West Side stadium.

Bloomberg said that an increasing number of elected officials are seeing that the stadium idea makes sense, citing the agreement of former mayor Rudy Giuliani and Reverend Al Sharpton as proof.

Councilman Robert Jackson (D-Washington Heights) congratulated everyone for working together, but warned that “there is real work ahead to make sure the transition is smooth.”

Representatives of the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Senator Charles Schumer (D-NY), Congressman Charles B. Rangel (D-Harlem), and other elected officials and community leaders helped transfer the ownership of the building when the former owner was issued a foreclosure notice last May.

To prevent the building from being transferred into the hands of another bad owner, residents took a bus to an auction held for their building last month, at which the aforementioned organizations and individuals advocated on their behalf.

“This is part of a bigger effort we have underway. There is more to come,” said HPD Commissioner Shaun Donovan. He too congratulated residents on getting “the homes and respect [they] deserve.”

Senator Schumer was unable to attend last night’s event but extended his greetings to tenants in a letter in which he commended them for their “steadfast commitment” and “gallant efforts.”

The event was hosted by Jordi Reyes-Montblanc, vice chairman of the CATCH board of directors and chairman of Community Board 9, and featured speakers including Manhattan Borough President C. Virginia Fields and Special Counsel of HPD Harold Schultz.

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