The ddm family of companies has created close to 1500 units of housing for low-income families. The newly constructed or renovated apartments and homes are scattered throughout East and Central Harlem in upper Manhattan in a variety of building sizes and types. Homes are within 3-family owner-occupied buildings, rental apartments in multiple-family housing, suites within a congregate living residence for disabled people, assisted living apartments for the elderly, and units for people who are HIV ill living in a supportive housing community.
In the late 1980s, life-loving and visionary priest Reverend Robert V. Lott bounded into East Harlem as pastor of St. Francis deSales parish and its elementary school. Appalled by the rubble-strewn lots and derelict vacant buildings throughout the neighborhood, he enlisted the help of a lawyer and social worker friend, Barbara Baer, to create a nonprofit housing company.
Barbara, in turn, asked Terry Moan and ddm to become the adviser and developer of the new entity, SFDS Development Corp. (now named Lott Community Development Corp.) Priests and concerned parishioners from local parishes and Father Don Sakano of Catholic Charities provided expert guidance. Thus began a 20-year effort resulting in over 50 buildings providing affordable housing.
The first project arose when there was an unanticipated source of funds available in New York State and a “turnkey” program was created. SFDS/ddm/Catspaw won the right to rehabilitate 50 apartments in a row of buildings on East 100th Street. From then ddm as developer for Lott CDC went on to develop over 700 units of housing, primarily for working families, under the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, with projects syndicated by Enterprise Foundation and in conjunction with the NYC housing agency, HPD, and various private foundations. In addition, permanent housing for formerly homeless families and four federal 202 projects for elderly housing as well as the Lott Assisted Living on Fifth Avenue overlooking Central Park.
NYC Third Party Transfer Program
In March 2003, NYC housing agency, HPD, called ddm, which is on a list of qualified city partners, to say that the courts were removing an occupied, 5 story walk up building from private ownership any day. When a building is seriously distressed as to lack heating, plumbing and/or if real estate and water arrears are accumulating, the courts place the deed in the care of a non-profit entity which then works with property management firms to stabilize the building and assess the situation. In this case, the actual structure was failing due to a stream running underneath (and through) the cellar and the building was uninhabitable due to lack of maintenance for over a decade.
We met with the tenants and explained that we would have to relocate them while we repaired the building. It was difficultcreating trust among frightened, poor families who found that storyline to be unbelievable – their rent would stay the same while they enjoyed living in new apartments! There was also an illegal social club in the first floor whose members threatened anyone who dared to evict them from their free space. Nonetheless, after a successful renovation, with loansfrom HPD and Neighborhood Housing and Services, the seven families returned to beautiful new apartments along with 5 new families and two new storeowners and the deed has been transferred to ddm.
ddm has since acquired 6 additional buildings through this program, turning vacant and semi-occupied derelict buildings into 80 homes for disabled people living independently, singles, and working families.
Neighborhood Entrepreneur Program
Two clusters of distressed buildings have been renovated under a similar NYC program and now provide homes for 200 families. One cluster of 12 buildings was renovated by NTF Realty ServicesInc in the 1990s with a partner, Francis Synmoie of New York Residential Works Inc (the “F” in NTF). In 2012, ddm acquired 6 additional buildings through the same program. Both projects are financed through NYC HPD via the Low Income Housing Tax Credit program, National Equity Fund, and its NY affiliate NYEF, with LISC syndicating the investor financing and providing other funding for social service support to the families.
Special Needs Housing
ddm development has acted as consultant developer for many social service providers to create over 400 units of supportive housing for special-needs populations such as those who are HIV ill, developmentally disabled, very frail elderly, formerly homeless singles, and families in need of ongoing services. The projects are a mix of newly-constructed or renovated single-building residences or apartments scattered throughout other housing developments. Our clients and partners include AHRC NY, Singeria, Minority Task Force on AIDS, Casa Betsaida, and Lott CDC.
Rental Housing in Multiple-Family Buildings for Non-Profit and For-Profit Owners
ddm has financed and built over 150 units of rental housing for a range of families throughout East Harlem in newly-constructed and renovated mixed-use buildings.
- “One priest’s vision continues to give hope to low-income families in Harlem”, NY Catholic Examiner, October 2010.
- “New Housing in Harlem Carries Forth Father Lott’s Vision”, Catholic New York, September 24, 2009.
- “Putting Tax-Delinquent Properties Into New Hands”, The New York Times, November 14, 1999.