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Hundreds of NYCHA apartments undergoing renovations to change stigma of affordable housing

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    NEW YORK (WCBS) — Hundreds of New York City public housing apartments are getting a makeover.

It’s part of a public and private initiative to improve the image of affordable housing, CBS2’s Hazel Sanchez reported Monday.

Many public housing tenants have been plagued by rundown kitchens and bathrooms, mold, broken light fixtures, old flooring and peeling paint on ceilings and walls.

But those living at Wise Towers, a NYCHA complex on the Upper West Side, will soon be coming home to a fully renovated apartment.

Pierre Downing, vice president of affordable housing for Monadnock Development, is part of a team called PRC, the PACT Renaissance Collaborative.

As part of NYCHA’s Permanent Affordability Commitment Together, or “PACT” program, it picked a group of developers and investors to renovate and manage more than a dozen NYCHA properties in Manhattan with additional secured Section 8 funding.

“We’re all aligned in one thing: providing quality, safe, affordable housing for families to thrive and live out their version of whatever the American dream might be for them,” said Downing.

Crews started working in February and expect to renovate 1,700 apartments in 16 Manhattan NYCHA developments by spring 2023.

The developments include the Fort Washington Senior Development in Washington Heights. Bathrooms, kitchens and living rooms are renovated in phases with residents in place.

Olga Lauriano, 82, has lived there for 20 years.

“I see the seniors happy. Their faces are happy,” Lauriano said. “They can’t wait. Now they want to buy new things. See, now everything looks old to them. Now they want to decorate. It gave them an uplift.”

“You go from living in substandard conditions, to living in something that you’re proud of,” Downing said. “That is the most rewarding part of all of this.”

The work is somewhat of a personal crusade for Downing. Raised by a single mother in public housing in Trenton, New Jersey, he aspired to change the stigma of affordable housing.

Now, hundreds of families are watching their homes become something they might never have imagined.

“I see the progress. I see the smiles. I see the success is happening,” said Monica Alexander, PRC tenant liaison.

And that is meaningful change.

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