Affordable housing rare commodity

NEWBURGH: Aging public housing improves, but questions remain about affordability.

This is how hard it is for poor people to find an apartment in the city of Newburgh: 400 people are on a waiting list for federally subsidized, low-income housing run by the Newburgh Housing Authority.

It’s a tight market for the poorest residents, and while Newburgh’s public housing is improving, it’s not clear whether there’s enough to go around.

The problem, according to the city’s own Housing and Community Development Plan, places an “undue cost burden on households to find decent, affordable housing.”

About 65 percent of the city’s 2,253 extremely low-income households spend more than half of each month’s income just on rent, the plan said.

The city’s four housing complexes are home to some 800 people. Several years ago, after the agency accumulated more than $2 million in water and electric bills it couldn’t pay, it sold two of complexes to a private developer.

The developer, Sheldrake Corp. and its CEO, investor J. Christopher Daly, promised a $5.5 million renovation of

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the 120-unit John T. Kenney Apartments. He also promised $1 million in electrical and boiler work at the 85-unit Bourne Apartments.

But will privatization help solve the housing crunch? Some hail the idea as a triumph of efficiency. Others fear the profit-motivated private sector will displace the poorest.

Sonia Miranda, who has lived in the complex 20 years, praised Sheldrake’s renovations to her apartment.

“Everything, everything is new,” she said. Her apartment, like others, has new linoleum floors, fresh white walls and new appliances. They even removed the wall between the living room and what was once a cramped laundry room. Now she enjoys a spacious living/dining area.


have no complaints,” Miranda said. “You tell them anything and they fix it real fast.”

But another tenant, a woman in her 30s who grew up in Kenney, has doubts.

“The rents went sky high,” said the woman, who holds a blue-collar job at a large company.

A three-bedroom is more than $900 a month, said the woman, who asked not to be identified. A two-bedroom costs between $600 and $775, too expensive for apartments constructed for the poor, she said.

The woman said the rent is a problem for people like her mother, a retired cleaning worker on Social Security. After paying rent on her one-bedroom her mother is left with $100.

“It doesn’t make any sense,” said the woman.

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Riverhouse by Thom Filicia

This eclectic cozy home situated in New York was designed by local interior designer Thom Filicia.

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Covering 9/11: reflecting on images

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Editors note: Los Angeles Times photographers Gary Friedman and Robert Gauthier arrived in New York on Sept. 13, 2001, and immediately began covering the disaster. In today’s From the Archives post, Friedman and Gauthier reflect on some of their Sept. 11 images. Larger versions of the photos are in the gallery above.

A 6 a.m. phone call on Sept. 11 from Times photo editor Steve Stroud woke photographer Gary Friedman. After explaining the news, Stroud instructed Friedman to catch the next flight to New York. While he was on the phone making reservations, all flights were grounded.

It would be two more days before Friedman, fellow photographer Rob Gauthier and a group of Times journalist reached New York on a charter flight. They landed in New Jersey early in the evening of Thursday, Sept. 13, checked into a mid-town hotel, and immediately started covering the story.

Times reporter Hector Tobar and Friedman walked towards Lower Manhattan. Friedman carried only one camera body and two lenses. After getting past several barricades and heavy security they arrived at ground zero — the remains of the World Trade Center.

“There are no words to describe what we saw,” Friedman said. “It resembled an atom bomb blast, rescue workers everywhere.”

Friedman turned around and against the backdrop of glaring light saw a silhouetted group of firemen. They were looking at looking at “the Pile,” where 343 of their firehouse brothers had been lost.

Friedman opened his coat, brought his camera to his eye and made this image.

“I find this image haunting, yet beautiful,” says Friedman.

In the following weeks, Friedman concentrated on the New York Fire Department, a project recalled in his “Rescue 5″ story and the “Rescue 5: A photographer remembers” blog post last week. –Scott Harrison

Sept. 14, 2001: Some families waited for the inevitable confirmation that their loved ones were killed in the fall of the twin towers. Others pulled together in shock and sadness and began to mourn their loss.

This was the case with the family of Daniel Lopez, a financial analyst at Carr Futures on the 92nd floor of the north tower. His wife, Elizabeth, after three days of searching, gathered her family and silently wept at a neighborhood vigil in Queens.

After hours of photographing the perimeter of ground zero and passing by thousands of missing persons posters, this moment brought the tragedy into focus for me. The somber stillness of this Queens neighborhood of apartment buildings, broken only by the hushed sobs of families and friends, provided a glimpse of an emptiness that would continue for them long after I left. –Robert Gauthier

Sept. 15, 2001: Exhausted from three solid days of searching, Ammo rests with a comforting hand from SPCA detective Michael Norkelun a few hundred yards from ground zero. As first responders from all over the country scoured the rubble for survivors and victims, so did numerous search and rescue dogs.

Nimble and determined, the dogs could be seen darting in and out, above and below piles of steel and debris as anxious handlers barked commands and flashed gestures. Trained to work and eager to please, the dogs worked endless hours, like the human rescue workers, to the point of exhaustion.

This photo of Ammo elicited more emails and letters than any

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other picture I took of destroyed buildings, grieving families and exhausted human rescue workers. I’m not surprised. Animals like Ammo are unconditionally devoted to their human handlers. That’s something all of us admire deeply. –Robert Gauthier

Sept. 21, 2001: Jack Hord, 7, puts on a brave face while fans cheer the national anthem during pregame ceremonies at the Mets – Braves game. Neighbor J. Christopher Daly, holds him as the first baseball game since the fall of the twin towers begins at Shea Stadium. Jack’s father, Monte Hord, an employee at Cantor Fitzgerald, was killed in the attack.

This was one of a few defining moments during my Sept. 11 experience. It was obvious that young Jack Hord hadn’t begun to process what had happened; yet, like the rest of the country, people at the game were anxious to move forward with their lives. The stadium was filled with patriotism and enthusiasm. For a moment I felt a part of that community, but then I looked into Jack’s eyes and wondered how his life had changed, now that his father was gone. –Robert Gauthier

Tomorrow: Los Angeles Times photographer Mark Boster looks back on his two-week cross-country drive documenting America after Sept. 11.

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Developers find real estate opportunities during challenging times at PWC forum

professional women in construction, sheldrake, j christopher daly, j. christopher daly

New York, NY The speakers at the latest developers forum presented by Professional Women in Construction (PWC) National at The Yale Club in New York City were unanimous: real estate opportunities continue to abound despite the challenging economy – especially if developers are willing to venture off the well-trodden paths. As Lois Weiss, reporter for the New York Post and PWC’s ongoing moderator for the series, said, “If you look deeply enough, there is work to be had in the nooks and crannies of the boroughs.”

Vincent Riso, principal of the Briarwood Organization and one of the morning’s speakers, said, “We are looking to a very bright future.”

Simon Shamilzadeh, vice president, marketing & sales, Manor Properties Group, also sounded an upbeat note, saying: “New York has a way of bouncing back. It will be stronger than ever before.”

He said that Manor Group prides itself on its high level of tenant satisfaction. He spoke of two of the firm’s latest Harlem projects — The Dover at West 123rd Street, condominiums in a brownstone building that are over 50% sold, and Casa Loma on 116th St. that are 95% sold – and a new development on the Upper West Side, at 208 West 96th St.

“One of the key elements of Manor Group’s success is its emphasis on the community. We maintain a high degree of integrity in development and only use the most highly qualified, expert contractors,” said Shamilzadeh.

Michael McNaughton, vice president northeast region, General Growth Properties (GGP), spoke of his firm’s mandate: to restore the South Street Seaport’s lost grandeur.

“The Seaport was seen as an appendage. It needed to be re-integrated physically and emotionally with the City,” he said. After researching comparable areas around the world, GGP concluded that incorporating a large, iconic open space on the water would restore the vital connection with the neighborhood. “We will bring the Seaport back as a marketplace, broaden the opportunities for programming, and emphasize the views to the bridges and Governors Island,” said McNaughton. The Seaport will also incorporate additional uses including hotel, residential and retail space.

Riso spoke of Briarwood’s focus on affordable housing. One of Briarwood’s projects, The Centra, 108 condominiums located at 100 West 89th St., is the first market-rate development under New York City’s West Side Urban Redevelopment Plan. Other projects include Waters Edge at Arverne, 130 units of affordable cooperatives in two-story townhomes in the Rockaways, and the Solara, 162 affordable cooperative units on Grant Ave. in the Bronx.

“The economy has not been as affected in the affordable market as in market-rate housing,” said Riso.

J Christopher Daly, president and founder of the Sheldrake Organization, which is currently working on eight green developments throughout New York, discussed the firm’s latest development, Riverhouse – One Rockefeller Park. A 32-story, 264-unit LEED rated luxury condominium situated on the last waterfront site in Battery Park City,  Riverhouse utilizes environmentally responsible materials, green roofs, solar generation, progressive filtration and recycling technologies.

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