How They Were Able To Buy New York Apartments Affordably

photo of bronx hub
L. Graciella Maiolatesi
May 22, 2022

Residents of a South Bronx, New York apartment building were being threatened with extreme rent increases! Already struggling financially, the tenants gathered in secret. It was time to take their power back.

They planned to go to court to determine if their building was rent-stabilized, but COVID-19 delayed the hearing. While waiting, they met with the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board, a nonprofit interested in helping the tenants become owners of their building!

COVID-19 became a blessing in disguise – their landlord was struggling financially as well, and wanted to sell! UHAB took out a loan and bought the building for $2.6 million. 

80% of the tenants needed training to become a tenant Co-op, in which the building would be signed over to them and their units would only cost $2,500 each! This was huge – most South Bronx apartments go for $72,000.

Reflecting on their experience, one tenant said, “We’re almost conditioned not to see the bigger picture, not to believe the bigger picture, like ownership is not for us.” 

Looking at the history of Black people being strategically excluded from housing, what the tenants did becomes even more inspiring.

The tenants refused to be underestimated by systems that work to displace us. Instead of giving into fear, they remembered there’s power in numbers, and when we work together, we can win!

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