Community Assisted Tenant Controlled Housing, Inc. (CATCH) is a non-profit organization that works to transform distressed buildings across New York City into decent, affordable, resident-controlled housing. At the invitation of residents, local politicians, non-profit agencies, or the city, we arrange and oversee the rehabilitation of abandoned or dilapidated buildings. Rather than taking title to these buildings directly, we typically put them under the ownership of a neighborhood-based mutual housing association (MHA). Each MHA is governed by a board of directors that includes residents, CATCH representatives, and sometimes people from the local community as well. All building residents are members of the MHA, and are legally entitled to vote for representatives on the board of directors or run for a position themselves. Mutual housing is also a housing model widely used in Europe.
CATCH was formed in 1991 by a number of respected housing, community development, and community service organizations. These include the United Housing Foundation, U-HAB, Lawyers Alliance, the Community Service Society, and The Parodneck Foundation, which acts as CATCH’s lead agency. CATCH’s co-sponsors play a crucial role in the organization, providing many forms of assistance and support.
Unlike other profit and nonprofit developers in the field, CATCH heavily involves tenants in the affairs of buildings it’s affiliated with. All CATCH buildings are run to keep them affordable to tenants in the long term. To make this affordable model approach possible, buildings are clustered and run under corporations (HDFC’S) that assist each other financially to maintain their long term health.
What We Do
Since 1991, CATCH has turned around some of the most troubled buildings in the city, including a property featured in the New York Times as one of “the worst in the city.” This city wide mutual housing program targets distressed private and public sector housing for acquisition, rehab and final disposition to a new or existing active, resident-driven affiliated mutual housing association (i.e. the Central Harlem MHA is a local, resident controlled, affiliate to CATCH, with a majority of residents on the local board, a minority appointed by CATCH, and with staffing, construction, property management and fiscal oversight provided by CATCH). The residents in these buildings are both rent stabilized residents and members, with all of the rights of ownership except the right to buy and sell the individual apartments.
Nearly 800 units of housing in over 50 buildings have been created and preserved through this program operating in the Washington Heights, Central Harlem, Morrisania, Highbridge, and Crown Heights neighborhoods of New York City, representing over $77 million dollars in private and public investment.
Philosophy and Approach
- Buildings should be democratically run by and for the benefit of the residents.
- Buildings should be kept affordable in the long term and run on a not-for-profit basis.
- No resident should be charged a rent he or she cannot afford.
- CATCH works to meet these goals by establishing locally-based mutual housing associations governed jointly.