The Lower East Side People’s Mutual Housing Association, Inc. (LESPMHA) is a nonprofit, [501(c)(3)] organization which was incorporated on April 24, 1990 under the name The People’s Mutual Housing Association of the Lower East Side, Inc. (PMHA). The association traces its origins to a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) established between Manhattan’s Community Board #3 (CB3) and the City of New York’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) on September 30, 1987. This MOU called for the creation of the Cross-Subsidy Program to provide for housing development on the Lower East Side. The proceeds from the sale of vacant land to private developers was to be used to fund the development of 1000 units of low and moderate income housing through the rehabilitation of municipally-owned vacant buildings. PMHA was created as the primary vehicle for the low and moderate-income housing development portion of the Cross-Subsidy Program. The Program called for PMHA to begin by developing 277 units of housing in 20 vacant buildings.
By 1993, PMHA took title to and fully renovated 21 vacant buildings in the cross subsidy program. To complete this vital neighborhood preservation and redevelopment, the association secured $20.2 million in long-term forgivable loans from the City of New York. 90% of the residents of the association are low and moderate-income families earning between 50% and 80% of the area median income. The remaining 10% of the residents are formerly homeless families. Beyond providing long-term affordable housing, the association encourages the commercial revitalization of the Lower East Side by supplying the neighborhood with a series of affordable storefronts for local merchants. The association’s properties are scattered throughout the neighborhood with buildings located as far south as Henry Street and as far west as First Avenue.
The organization’s next development effort was the rehabilitation of a 30-unit building for very low-income families. Financed by a mix of municipal loans and low income housing tax credits, the project was completed in February of 1995. In 1995 Peoples Mutual Housing Association merged with the Lower East Side Mutual Housing Association adding 2 more buildings with 48 units. At that time the merger legally changed the organizations name to The Lower East Side Peoples Mutual Housing Association. In April of 1998 LESPMHA became the Sponsor of a 10 unit homeless housing project with ground floor commercial space. In July 1998 we received notice of receipt of our Housing Trust Fund Grant and Tax Credit allocation for the project at 535 E 5th St. Construction of 30 low-income units (40% of median income) began in August, 1999 and was completed in December, 2000. In September, 2000 we received notice of receipt of our NYS Housing Trust Fund Grant and Tax Credit Allocation for the project at 228 East 3rd Street and 299 East 3rd Street. Due to September 11, 2001 the ULURP process was delayed and construction of 60 low-income units (40% of median income) began in January, 2003. The first building was occupied in December, 2004 and the second in January, 2006. We submitted a proposal to NYSHTF in February 2002 for development of 44 units of Low-Income Housing (30% and 50% of median income) at 227 East 3rd Street and 242 East 2nd Street. We received our funding commitment in August 2002. Both buildings were completed in January 2007. We began construction of HPD NRP Project (189 East 2nd Street, 203 Avenue A and 291 East 4th Street) on July 16, 2007. The finished project will contain 30 residential units and 3 commercial spaces. All buildings were completed by January 2011. With the completion of our last project the aforementioned merger and our new sponsorship; LESPMHA now totals 544 units of low and moderate income housing (plus 21 commercial spaces).
In November 2012 we began construction of the Mary Spink apartments, a 46-unit Supportive Housing project through HPD. We received TCO (Temporary Certificate of Occupancy) in December 2014. Tenants moved in January 2015. Supportive services are being provided by Community Access.
The LESPMHA is committed to insuring the availability of long term, low and moderate income, rental housing based on resident participation and democratic involvement. All buildings developed by the LESPMHA are owned exclusively by the association. The association offers the members effective control of the management of their units through a unique structure of ascending democratic steps that culminate in a resident majority representation on the Board of Directors. In each LESPMHA building there is a Building Committee. Each Building Committee elects one representative to a Resident’s Council. The Resident Council reports directly to the Board. The entire membership elects the resident Board members at the Annual Meeting. After the first five years of the Association, the Resident Directors represent a one vote majority on the 13-member Board of Directors. The LESPMHA model offers the residents control over the management of their units without having the direct responsibility of daily management tasks. It thereby eliminates the necessity of their possessing the arcane expertise required to run a property in the City of New York while simultaneously offering direct resident participation in both the day-to-day functioning and the long term direction of the association.
• Link to LESPMHA Who We Are PDF document, 2005
• Link to LESPMHA Bylaws PDF Document, 2018