2013-07-05 / Top Stories

Sand Castle Returns To Affordable Housing Program

By Miriam Rosenberg


Councilman Donovan Richards is joined by residents of the Sand Castle as he announces the buildings reentry into the city’s affordable housing program Mitchell Lama. Photo by Miriam Rosenberg Councilman Donovan Richards is joined by residents of the Sand Castle as he announces the buildings reentry into the city’s affordable housing program Mitchell Lama. Photo by Miriam Rosenberg Affordable housing has made a return to Rockaway in a big way. Last week it was announced that the Sand Castle Apartments in Far Rockaway have returned to the city’s affordable housing program known as Mitchell-Lama after leaving it in 2006.

“Today with the announcement of this building opting back into the Mitchell Lama program 916 units of affordable housing now has come back to 711 Seagirt Boulevard,” said Councilman Donovan Richards.

Joe Barden, the Executive Director of Margert Community Corporation, explained the meaning of affordable housing.

“Defined by HUD, affordable housing is housing that costs no more than 30 percent of your gross monthly income,” said Barden. He added that in New York, it is almost impossible to find such housing that is “safe, decent and affordable.”

Barden also said that his organization stands ready to help in repairs, energy efficiency and tenant screening.

Richards said he would be sitting down with the owner to discuss various issues, including giving preference to those who were displaced from peninsula as a result of Sandy.

“This will certainly aid, especially for those who lost so much during Sandy,” said Richards. “I believe that people want to come back. The city was looking for affordable housing for a long time, now it is here.”

The changes are welcome to those living in the building who say things have gone downhill since owners left the Mitchell-Lama program.

“It was nice. You could leave the doors open,” said one tenant who preferred to not give their name.

Another said, “We don’t have enough security. They used to make rounds, now they don’t.”

“The precinct used to have a van here all day,” said a tenant. The Wave was told of people being robbed, tenants afraid to go up in the elevator and pit bulls with no muzzles.

The Wave has reported some of the problems that occurred at the apartment complex in the past few years including police responding to shots fired in November 2010, a stabbing and possible attempted robbery in Feb 2011.

Built in the 1970’s as part of the Mitchell-Lama program, it was originally known as Roy Reuther Houses. In 2006, they opted out of the program when the mortgage was paid off with a plan to go to general renters rather than just seniors. In 2007, it was sold again, renamed The Sand Castle and the decision was made to go to market rate. Apartments for those who lived in the Sand Castle, when it opted out of the program, remained affordable housing. The apartments, for all those who came in after, were rented at market rate, which Richards said at this time is approximately $1,300 a month.

According to Department of Finance records, it is now owned by Seagirt Equities LLC, which has made the decision to return to affordable housing. All those living in the building will be screened to see if they are eligible for affordable housing.

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