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Laborers’ Local 79 Partnership Promises Affordable Housing, Union Jobs and Local Hiring

“We’re setting a new precedent for how to build permanently affordable housing with union labor, hire locally, and create more pathways to the middle class in low-income communities of color.” — Laborers Local 79 Business Manager Mike Prohaska.

New York, NY – On Thursday, November 19, Laborers’ Local 79  and L+M Development Partners announced a new agreement promising a strong new precedent for the future of progressive affordable housing development, union job creation and local hiring in New York City.

The agreement, which will initially cover work on 3,182 apartments in Harlem, the South Bronx, and East New York, Brooklyn, comes as the city works to regain its economic footing amid the ongoing pandemic, and is intended to help drive recovery and growth in neighborhoods hit hard by COVID-19.

The partnership between a prominent construction laborers’ union and one of New York’s leading affordable housing developers launched with construction of phase one of Sendero Verde, a 100 percent affordable project in East Harlem that L+M is developing in partnership with Jonathan Rose Companies and Acacia Network. That project recently topped out.

Sendero Verde phase one includes 361 apartments, a new public charter school and a 12,000 square foot community center for youth and seniors operated by Union Settlement. Upon completion of its second phase, the 700-apartment project will be the largest residential passive housing development in the country.

The agreement will continue in January, when construction is expected to begin on the 542-unit first phase of Bronx Point, a 100 percent permanently affordable project in the South Bronx that L+M is developing with Type A Projects and will include the new Universal Hip Hop Museum and a riverfront park.

The new initiative will also cover comprehensive rehabilitation projects at two New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) sites: Linden Houses in East New York, Brooklyn and Harlem River Houses I & II in Harlem, both of which are expected to begin construction in 2021. L+M is partnering with Douglaston Development, Dantes Partners and SMJ Partners on the Linden Houses project, and is serving as contractor for Settlement Housing Fund and West Harlem Group Assistance’s rehab of Harlem River Houses I & II.

In addition to stringent local hiring requirements, the agreement also specifically requires hiring NYCHA residents living in complexes near projects built through the partnership. L+M traditionally focuses heavily on local hiring in the areas in which it builds, and the company is expected to continue that approach alongside Local 79.

“With this agreement, we’re setting a new precedent for how to build permanently affordable housing with union labor, hire locally, and create more pathways to the middle class in low-income communities of color,” Laborers’ Local 79 Business Manager Mike Prohaska said. “We commend Ron Moelis and L+M for partnering with us to ensure that more local residents can build affordable housing as union laborers and live in it. The affordable housing and NYCHA rehabilitation projects in this agreement will offer a major economic boost to Harlem and East New York, Brooklyn – two areas of the city hit hard by COVID-19.  We’re committed to creating a stronger, more vibrant future for the city by helping more New Yorkers learn a skilled construction trade, become union members, and build affordable housing in their neighborhoods.”

Chaz Rynkiewicz, Director of Organizing for Local 79, said, “New members…will come in from the local communities to our training program and to first get safety and then craft training. We’re extremely proud of the local hiring component and the sustainable, economic development program in conjunction with L+M [that] will add to the wellbeing of the communities that have been affected by COVID-19.”

Construction and General Building Laborers’ Local 79 serves the five boroughs of New York City. Currently, the union has nearly 10,000 members, and is the largest Laborers’ Local in North America. More than 65 percent of current Local 79 members are people of color, and more than 70 percent live in the five boroughs. The workers who become members of this union operate as skilled tradespeople who perform a number of vital jobs to ensure that buildings are constructed safely and effectively. Local 79’s scope of work includes: mason tending; interior and total demolition; plasterer tending; fireproofing; scaffolding; restoration work.

Since Ron Moelis and Sandy Loewentheil founded L+M Development Partners in 1984, the company has been an innovator in developing quality affordable, mixed-income and market-rate housing, while improving the neighborhoods in which it works.

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