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Jamaica preservation plan has community concerned

A collaborative effort between Allen A.M.E. Church and the city would allow the non-profit group to buy city-owned residential property for next to nothing and then sell and rent units at low costs to southeast Queens residents.

The project is a joint undertaking by the church’s neighborhood preservation and development office and the city’s Housing Preservation and Development agency, but it met with some criticism from members of Community Board 12 at their meeting April 17.

At the meeting Deborah McCafferty, executive director of the program for Allen A.M.E., announced an agreement with HPD to purchase a 14-unit apartment building at Sutphin Boulevard and 150th Avenue.

Allen paid just $1 for the building through the HPD’s Neighborhood Redevelopment program, McCafferty said. The program is designed to allow non-profit groups to pay only a token amount for city-owned residential property, refurbish it, and then sell or rent the homes and apartments to tenants or the public at inexpensive rates, McCafferty said.

“It’s a feasible and affordable way that people can purchase a home,” she said.

But community board members had reservations about the program, which requires homebuyers to go through a non-profit organization like Allen, rather than offering the homes straight to residents.

“Why is it only the non-profits and not the individual?” asked board member Larry Ennett. “I’m not talking about the non-profits, I’m talking about the individual.”

Angela Simpson-Buckley, director of the Neighborhood Redevelopment Program for the city, said the program is just one of HPD’s home ownership plans. Another, the tenant Ownership program, or TOP, is aimed at selling the homes straight to the individuals for renovations, not organizations, she said.

Board members also questioned the HPD’s lack of community outreach, and many said this was the first they had heard of the program.

“The people who could take advantage of it don’t seem to know about it,” said Rueben Holder.

The community board also asked Simpson-Buckley for a list of other available properties in southeast Queens as well as information on all of HPD’s programs.

Reach reporter Courtney Dentch by e-mail at TimesLedger@aol.com, or by phone at 229-0300, Ext. 138.

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