West Village to Remain Affordable After Sale

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ITHACA — A plan to sell the low-income West Village apartments at the end of this year will not result in anyone losing their housing, according to both current West Village owner Bruce Abbott and Alderwoman Maria Coles, D-1st. “It's not gonna become luxury apartments; it's gonna be affordable apartments,” Abbott said. "I know of no plans to ask anybody to leave; it is scheduled to remain affordable housing,” Coles said.

After 35 years owning and managing the units, Abbott said his company, Abbott Associates, is selling the 235-unit apartment complex on West Hill in part to make sure that the units can stay affordable. Rents are subsidized by a program that reduces the interest rate on a property's mortgage (section 236). This subsidy operates only until the mortgage is paid off, which will be 2013 for West Village.

When the apartments are sold, the subsidy will switch to a program that subsidizes rent indefinitely, based on income level and family size (section 8). Both programs are operated through the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development. Abbott said under the new program rents will increase, but so will subsidies. These factors will calculate differently for different individuals, based on income and family size. So some residents might see a rent increase, and some might see a decrease.

Abbott would not give specific numbers to quantify rent or subsidy changes because they will be individually based. “The only way individuals can know is to deal with us; it can't be done with a newspaper,” he said. Abbott and the prospective buyers, Omni NY, LLC, will host a meeting at 7 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 4 at the Holiday Inn in downtown Ithaca to answer resident questions about this and other issues. Abbott has hired a bus to transport residents from West Village to the Holiday Inn. It will run three times in the hour before the meeting starts. “I want everybody there, and I want them to comment or ask questions and be assured,” he said.

Omni NY, LLC, owns and manages approximately 5,000 housing units, primarily in New York City and Nassau County. The co-founder, Maurice “Mo” Vaughn, is a former major league baseball player who was involved in various community organizations and charities before becoming involved in affordable housing real estate, according to the Omni NY Web site.

If the deal goes through in December, Omni NY plans to spend $8 million refurbishing the 35-year-old apartments, Abbott said. “This would be a far better arrangement for those who live at West Village because this is a group that is willing to invest substantial amounts of money to refurbish the place,” Coles said. “The place can in fact use an influx of money to make it more attractive and to take care of some of the problems that exist there now.”

Abbott said residents will not be paying for the $8 million renovation out of their rent — rents are purely based on HUD guidelines.
Source: Ithaca Journal

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