self-help and cooperation.
Meyer Parodneck was a Polish immigrant who grew up on the Lower East Side in the early 20th Century. Having grown up in poverty and in squalid housing conditions, Meyer worked hard, became a lawyer, and founded the Consumer-Farmer Milk Cooperative, Inc. in 1937, which became one of the most successful “producer-consumer cooperatives” in the country. The purpose of the cooperative was was to provide upstate farmers “more money for their milk,” and to provide downstate consumers with “more milk for their money.”
In the late 60s, its mission being largely accomplished, the cooperative sold its assets to form the Consumer-Farmer Foundation, Inc. to focus on another of Mr. Parodneck’s longstanding interests, improving the housing conditions of low-income New Yorkers.
Mutual housing is a housing model widely used in Europe. CATCH is a mutual housing association, with about 800 units of housing, representing over $77 million dollars in private and public investment. Community Assisted Tenant Controlled Housing, Inc (CATCH) is an affiliated program of the foundation that, at the invitation of residents, local politicians, non-profit agencies, or the city, arranges and oversees the rehabilitation of abandoned or dilapidated buildings for eventual conversion to resident control.
Each local 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 resident representatives on the board of directors or run for a position themselves.
The Foundation has a budget of approximately $1.7 million. Roughly a quarter of our income is derived from foundation, government and corporate grants, the balance from development fees and government contracts. We are governed by a board of 11 independent directors and have 21 full-time employees.
But most of our assistance is provided programmatically through direct loans to senior homeowners ($1,599,000); remediation services ($2,825,000 in refinancing); and arranging for financing assistance for mutual housing ($12,027,700), all in 2007.