NEW YORK - We've taken you inside many NYCHA apartments to show you just how bad the conditions were, but now FOX 5 NY is taking a look at how good it can be - brand new kitchens, new floors, and walls and more.
According to Betances Resident Association President Giselle Gavin, the Betances Houses in Mott Haven had a myriad of problems for residents.
"Roaches, leaks, mold, mold on your clothes and your shoes," Gavin told FOX 5 NY. The building was infested with rats inside and out, and a newly built playground and common area was overrun with non-residents doing drugs.
Gavin said she had fought for repairs with no progress, so when she was approached by NYCHA about a new public-private partnership called PACT - Permanent Affordability Commitment Together, she was skeptical.
"NYCHA had put us on hold for years. There were a lot of promises that were broken. We decided to take that chance because we have nothing to lose," Gavin said.
Two years later, she's glad they did.
All of Betances' 1,088 units in the sprawling 40 building development have been fully renovated from the inside out, without residents having to be displaced. There are new kitchens with stainless steel appliances and clean modern bathrooms. There are building system upgrades, new windows, mold prevention fans, even natural wood facades by front doors where there are floodlights and security cameras.
There was a lot of planning with residents before any work began.
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Matthew Rooney, CEO of MDG Design & Construction, and Principal, RDC Development, says they did extensive meetings with residents. They brought questions and concerns, and they listened and learned. The most common complaints were pest problems and rats.
Citywide, NYCHA says it's facing a $40 billion dollar repair bill, money that's simply not there. However, their private-public PACT allows them to access a toolbox of federal programs.
There is private management at the Betances Houses with continued NYCHA building and land ownership, and special contract guarantees for residents, like no rent increase with an improved quality of life.
It's a major change in a short period of time for residents, says NYCHA's Jonathan Gouveia, Executive Vice President of Real Estate Development. He says one of the most rewarding experiences for him is seeing how it's improved residents' quality of life.
Other issues for residents included security in the lobby, but now the lights are on 24/7 and are bright, and the mailboxes are secure.