Urban Homesteading Assistance Board
|Motto||Co-ops for Communities|
|Purpose||Supports self-help housing and community building in low-income neighborhoods by training, organizing, developing, and assisting resident-controlled limited-equity housing cooperatives. Several buildings that UHAB actually owns and manages, however, have many housing violations and at least one building, 640 Riverside Drive, is on the NYC Public Advocate's "Worst Landlord's List".|
|Headquarters||New York, New York|
|Brooklyn, Manhattan, Bronx, United States|
|Andrew Reicher (1979-present)|
|Affiliations||Partnership for Affordable Housing (PPAH), New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council (RBSCC), The Housing Partnership Development Corp., Lower East Side Peoples' Credit Union, Cooperators United for Mitchell Lama|
The Urban Homesteading Assistance Board, or UHAB, is a non-profit organization in New York City that helps create and support self-help housing. UHAB works with residents to acquire, rehabilitate and manage their apartments. In the process the organization creates and helps sustain high-quality limited-equity housing cooperatives that are to remain affordable, in perpetuity, to people of low and middle-income.
In 1974 UHAB started as a resident advocacy and training group serving residents in foreclosed or abandoned properties in New York City. Since then, UHAB has evolved from a largely assistance and training-focused organization into one of the city's leading developers of affordable housing.
Between 1970 and 1978, New York City lost an average of 3,274 apartments per month as a wave of abandonment and arson swept the city from the Bronx to Brooklyn. By 1976, the city owned 4,611 multifamily buildings that had formerly been rental units, and the unwitting landlord stood to take on several thousand more before the crisis was over.
The Very Reverend James P. Morton, or Dean Morton, a progressive minister working at St. John the Divine, hosted a symposium in fall of 1972. There, led by I.Donald Terner, an urban studies professor from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology the idea of creating viable form of urban homesteading for the city's beleaguered renters was born.
UHAB was founded in April 1974.
UHAB is not a government agency, but a private not-for-profit organization that contracts with the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development to perform services such as training of tenants living in certain buildings and co-ops.
One of the larger city contracts is administration of the city's Tenant Interim Lease (TIL) program. TIL assists organized tenant associations in City-owned buildings to develop economically self-sufficient low-income cooperatives where tenants purchase their apartments for $250. Tenants in the TIL program have expressed interest and ability to self-manage their building for a number of years before it is converted legally into a co-op.
UHAB also participates as a developer in New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development's Third Party Transfer program and receives loans from HPD to rehabilitate buildings.
UHAB also contracts with New York State and the Federal Government to assist homesteaders, tenants, and co-ops.
Programs and services
UHAB provides training and technical assistance for future cooperative residents in building management, organizational development and the cooperative conversion process. After cooperative conversion is approved by the state Attorney General, UHAB provides support to shareholders through UHAB University – a series of fifteen classes of training and specialized technical assistance.
UHAB also provides cost-saving programs for housing cooperatives such as fire and liability insurance, fuel purchases and bookkeeping services.
While the 1970s saw the development of city-backed programmatic change that would enable urban homesteading to play a legitimate role in taking charge of abandoned buildings, UHAB more recently played a role in partnering with squatters to help them achieve recognition as legitimate owners of buildings in the Lower East Side.
In 2002, squatters in 11 buildings signed contracts with the city to become official limited-equity co-ops in perpetuity provided the building rehabilitation and resale policy be overseen by UHAB.
Some of the original squatters have disputed the original text in the agreements, and believe it is their right to collect market rate prices on the sales of their units. At present, all the squatters in the agreement are contractually obligated to resell the units at a capped profit, and only to buyers who can meet the income restrictions.
UHAB says the units were intended to be affordable housing, and the city would not have granted the squatters a 40-year property tax break if the project had stipulated market prices.
The most recent phase of UHAB's work began in 2002, when the company began developing new housing cooperatives from a variety of distressed situations. There are 98 buildings in the development pipeline, and as of mid-2009 the construction had been completed on 70 of them. Four had been recognized and approved as co-ops by the New York State Attorney General's office. By the completion of the development pipeline in 2010, over 2,000 new affordable units will have been created.
Organizing and policy
Since 1998 UHAB organizers have reached out to and engaged thousands of tenants in over 650 buildings across New York City. The Organizing and Policy Department is at the forefront of researching, exposing, and directly challenging speculative real estate practices that threaten tenants' rights to decent and affordable housing. This work is done via the combined efforts of on-the-ground organizing in distressed multifamily buildings and public advocacy campaigns. UHAB organizers have a blog that they update frequently discussing the most recent developments around Predatory Equity which can be accessed at: https://thesurrealestate.org.
Predatory Equity is a phenomenon whereby private equity investors acquire and substantially overleverage rent restricted housing for the explicit purpose of removing regulation, raising rents, and displacing low and moderate income families. With the recent financial crisis, investors have been unable to realize their anticipated returns. As a result, many buildings have fallen into foreclosure and serious disrepair. The Organizing and Policy Department is at the forefront of innovative policy solutions which fight Predatory Equity and lead to opportunities for the preservation and recapture of this housing stock as affordable. This is primarily done through transfers to tenants and tenant endorsed non-profit housing providers.   
- Carlson, Neil (2004), "UHAB Comes of Age: 30 Years of Self-Help Housing" (PDF), UHAB
- Morris, Bill (June 2008), HDFC Low Income Co-ops: The Last Gasp of Affordable Housing?, retrieved 2009-07-17
- "Frequently Asked Questions: What is UHAB's relationship to HPD?", UHAB, 2004, archived from the original on March 29, 2009
- New York City, Housing Preservation and Development, Rehabilitation: Tenant Interim Lease Apartment Purchase Program, retrieved 2009-07-17
- Despite millions of dollars in loads from HPD and private banks, such as Bank of America, buildings that UHAB actually owns and manages have still have many housing code violations and at least one building, 640 Riverside Drive, is on the NYC Public Advocate's "Worst Landlord's List". New York City, Housing Preservation and Development, Rehabilitation: Third Party Transfers, retrieved 2009-07-17
- Anderson, Lincoln (December 31, 2008), "Former squats are worth lots, but residents can't cash in", The Villager
- Anderson, Lincoln (January 14, 2009), "Squats will stay affordable", The Villager, retrieved 2009-07-17
- Wisloski, Jessica (December 2008), A View from the Window Newsletter (PDF), retrieved 2009-07-17[dead link]
- Brown, Eliot (2011-04-25). "Tenants Turn to Lenders to Repair Buildings". The Wall Street Journal.