Albany, NY – January 4, 2010 – (RealEstateRama) — Commissioner VanAmerongen recently testified before the State Assembly Housing Committee, providing information on DHCR’s accomplishments during the last 12 months as well as the challenges the agency will face in the coming year.
The Commissioner touched on a number of subjects and achievements, including:
- DHCR’s administration of nearly three-quarters of a billion dollars in stimulus funds through the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act;
- Strengthening the New York Main Street Program by expanding eligibility to local governments, as well as not-for-profit agencies, increasing the maximum grant award from $200,000 to $500,000 and making the initiative permanent in statute;
- Helping to negotiate the refinancing of Starrett City, providing $40 million for capital improvements to existing structures, facilities and apartment interiors. In return, Starrett will remain affordable and in the Mitchell-Lama program for an additional 30 years;
- Reforming the voluminous Mitchell-Lama regulations for the first time since they were developed in 1965. By removing outdated and unnecessary burdens, the new regulations will make it easier to preserve affordable housing and encourage owners to remain in the Mitchell-Lama program;
- Fighting the subprime foreclosure crisis by awarding 64 grants to organizations in every county of the state, in order to provide housing counselors and legal services to providers to homeowners in danger of losing their homes;
- Utilizing information gathered in the Statewide Housing Needs Assessment to address the loss of an important affordable housing stock-mobile and manufactured homes. The Commissioner initiated DHCR’s new Manufactured Home Replacement Program, which targets up to $5 million in NYS HOME Program funds to replace substandard owner-occupied mobile and manufactured homes with new Energy Star Qualified manufactured homes.
All these accomplishments took place during an unprecedented economic downturn, which required significant spending reductions by DHCR and all other state agencies. The Commissioner noted that DHCR’s General Fund and Special Revenue Allocations were reduced by 35 percent, from $41 million in 2007-08 to $26.5 million in 2009-2010. Most importantly, the Commissioner said, these savings were achieved while avoiding layoffs and maintaining staff levels, in order to preserve the integrity of our programs.