Ocean Parkway Community Development Corporation
While great inroads have been made to reverse the trend of deterioration in Kensington's housing stock and the community as a whole, there are still several unmet needs. A survey conducted in February, 2009, to asses the needs of the community, included community residents, and representatives of social service agencies as well as the chairman of the local Community Board. The following needs were identified:
a. Potential home buyers are in need of adequate information regarding the availability of affordable housing alternatives.
b. Homeowners facing financial difficulties are in need of credit and / or foreclosure counseling.
c. The cost of borrowing funds needed to make home repairs is on the verge of being predatory in practice, and therefore unaffordable to many homeowners.
d. There is a shortage of safe, decent, affordable housing in the community.
e. Tenants and landlords are not aware of their respective rights and responsibilities.
f. Multi-family housing units are old and are often in need of being upgraded to meet housing maintenance standards.
g. Quality of Life issues such as graffiti continue to mar the appearance of the community and have a negative effect on its inhabitants.
h. Respondents to the survey were divided as to whether the need was greater for rental units or for homeownership opportunities.
a. Potential home buyers are in need of adequate information regarding affordable housing alternatives
Based on the Census 2000 data, the typical homeowner within the community served by OPCDC, with an income at 90% of the median area, spends approximately 56% of his income on housing expenses - far in excess of the recommended 33%. Furthermore, the lack of sufficient, decent, affordable rental housing in the community, compounded by a vacancy rate which is lower than that of the city in general, leaves many families with no alternative but to purchase a home, in order to alleviate overcrowded conditions and to accommodate their needs. Unfortunately, for many, this is not a viable option. Even in cases where families can afford to purchase a home, many are not aware of mortgage application process. Without the “know how” to shop for a mortgage, they fall prey to predatory lenders. Finally, in many cases, homeowners fall behind on real estate tax payments and/or monthly mortgage payments ultimately defaulting on their mortgage.
b. Homeowners facing financial difficulties are in need of credit and / or foreclosure counseling
According to Realtytrac.com, in February 2009, there were 101 foreclosures in the 11218 zip code which encompasses the Kensington community. The 2008 State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods indicates that the number of foreclosure notices has been steadily increasing. This has created a critical need for credit and foreclosure prevention counseling.
c. The cost of borrowing funds for home repairs is on the verge of being predatory in practice, and therefore unaffordable to many homeowners
The housing stock in OPCDC's catchment area consists primarily of 4-story walk-ups along the avenues, and 1- 4 family homes along the side streets. Based on windshield surveys, many of these private homes are in need of repair. Current interest rates, charged by banks, for home improvement loans, are about 13%. Low- interest loan programs, for eligible homeowners, such as the Home Improvement Program offered by New York City’s HPD, become valuable tools in maintaining affordability to perform necessary repairs within their means. Information regarding these options needs to be disseminated to the public.
d. There is a shortage of safe decent affordable housing in the community
As indicated in the chart above, the vacancy rate in OPCDC’s catchment area of 3% is lower than that of the Borough of Brooklyn in general. According to the Furman Center 2007 Report on The State of New York City’s Housing and Neighborhoods, the median rent burden for the area was 37%, as compared to only 31.6 % for the Borough.
The impact of these high rents on the community is further illustrated by the map below, showing a significant portion of OPCDC’s catchment area suffering from rent hardship. The darkest shading of the census tract on the map indicates the greatest number of tenants in that tract facing rent hardship. For example, the deepest shade of purple represents a census tract in which 46.96 per cent or more are facing rent hardship. As illustrated by the map, a very significant portion of the renters in OPCDC’s catchment area are facing this difficult economic hardship.
Guides potential homeowners through the home purchase process including pre- and post-purchase counseling; helping obtain a mortgage; applying for down payment assistance grants.
Assists homeowners facing or about to face the foreclosure process.
Home Improvement Grants and Loans
Provides homeowners with information regarding low-interest loans and grants to make homes more energy efficient and building code compliant.
Matches tenants looking for housing with landlords who have vacant units available