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Want to own your NYC apartment? This nonprofit is helping renters buy their units

The Gothamist, David Brand, Mar 18, 2024

How would you like to own your apartment after years of renting?

One Brooklyn community group is trying to make that happen for tenants of a four-story building in the Cypress Hill section of East New York through an innovative housing program.

The East New York Community Land Trust bought the 21-unit, rent-stabilized apartment building on Arlington Avenue for just over $3 million late last month and plans to help tenants convert to co-op units in the coming years. Under the “community land trust” model, residents own or lease their homes at permanently affordable rates while the nonprofit owns the land below. But there’s a caveat: Residents can’t sell their apartments for big gains down the road, which ensures that the units remain affordable for the next occupants.

It’s the first time a community land trust has purchased an apartment building from a private landlord in New York City, and comes as property owners and investors consider unloading stabilized apartments where they say rising costs and caps on rent hikes are limiting profits and repairs. Gov. Kathy Hochul and other top officials have touted the model as a way to preserve affordable housing, but the Brooklyn deal marks an important test for whether it can grow in the five boroughs.

“We’re making sure that it’s affordable in perpetuity and making sure any fixes that our people need, both emergency and long-term, are getting done and being planned for,” said East New York CLT President Boris Santos. “We see our role as stewards.”

Santos said his organization approached the previous owner, a limited liability company tied to investor Philip Knoll, about buying the building last June. Knoll was willing to discuss the idea and negotiate the sale in just a few months.

Read More:  The Gothamist