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Courtesy of Citi
PartnerFinance & Innovation

Citi Progress Makers: Ocean Bay Apartments

Safe, affordable housing is critical to building a path out of poverty. And yet, municipal budget constraints and deficits have created a nationwide affordable housing crisis in the United States.

Residents of the Ocean Bay Apartments in Far Rockaway, New York, endured poor living conditions before Hurricane Sandy hit. Afterward, a bad situation became even worse.

In the storm's aftermath, private housing developer MDG joined forces with Citi Community Capital to restore Ocean Bay Apartments and the greater Far Rockaway community.

"When I first came to Ocean Bay what I saw was despair. I knew something had to be done," said Michael Rooney from MDG Design and Construction. "We saw the size of the project, the amount of money it would take, how quickly it needed to close – there was only one bank we considered, and it was Citi."

MDG turned to Citi for an innovative financial approach and Citi delivered, creating a first-of-its-kind public-private financing structure. Citi's loan structure helped MDG save over $1 million in fees that they reinvested in the project.

By placing the boilers on the roof and building a new flood wall, MDG made Ocean Bay storm-resilient. They also added solar panels for environmental efficiency and economic savings over the long term. Two new community gardens allow residents to grow their own food and flowers.

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MDG worked with local businesses, assisting contractors with payment terms that enabled them to handle multimillion-dollar contracts and provide jobs to local residents.

"Hurricane Sandy really woke people up to showing that we need to invest in this community."

All of this development kick-started additional investment in the Far Rockaway community, including plans for a retail center and new supermarkets.

Citi's innovative public-private financing structure is becoming a model for other affordable housing developments across the country, spurring renovation, job creation and positive environmental impact.

At Ocean Bay Apartments, residents now have a new confidence and a new sense of pride and ownership that is revitalizing the whole community.