Updated: Sep 1
A quiet, self-effacing hero, Andrew Reicher has devoted his entire career to improving the lives of people struggling to rise from poverty through access to stable, affordable housing. Andy’s efforts have helped create programs within the New York City government crucial to fostering the development of housing cooperatives for low-income New Yorkers. Through his leadership at the Urban Homesteading Assistance Board (UHAB), Andy has brought homeownership to thousands of city residents and is generous in sharing his expertise with others in the U.S. turning to the cooperative model as a source of homeownership for low-income residents.
Andy's unique combination of persistence, creativity and leadership has paved the way for cooperative development through many cycles of New York's housing landscape. Andy's career developed in tandem with UHAB, which was founded in 1973 during New York City's economic crisis to help residents without stable housing reclaim abandoned buildings in New York City and help rehabilitate those buildings as their homes. During his four decades at UHAB's helm, New York City's low-income resident-run and resident-owned housing cooperatives have grown from several dozen to more than 1,300 buildings, providing homeownership and permanent affordability to more than 30,000 households, most of them small buildings redeemed from abandonment. This is unique and unprecedented in the U.S. and is a significant chapter in New York City's story.
UHAB realized that while self-help rehabilitation using sweat equity was a catalyst for revitalization and growth, there was still a need to address the issue around foreclosure of physically deteriorating buildings in the city’s poorest neighborhoods. Turning the buildings over to community control was the idea that sparked the Tenant Interim Lease (TIL) Program. The program allows tenants in city-owned and tax-foreclosed buildings to form an association to manage and then purchase their buildings as limited-equity cooperatives.
For nearly 40 years, New York City contracted with UHAB to provide technical assistance to income-restricted cooperatives going through TIL. Under Andy’s leadership, programs for accounting and bookkeeping assistance, pre-paid legal assistance and training and education programs from how to run a heating system and boiler to how to run an efficient meeting were developed. More recently, Andy has steered UHAB’s programs towards climate and social justice goals through access to share loans and expanded use of renewable energy in low-income communities and communities of color.
Today, New York City has the largest community of shared-equity housing cooperatives in the country. In 1989, UHAB and the Tenant Interim Lease Program were jointly awarded the prestigious Rudy Bruner Award for Urban Excellence.
In 2015, Andy pioneered a vision for a nationwide coalition of cooperative housing practitioners and members to come together to grow, serve, and strengthen the model of shared equity housing cooperatives. The Sixth Principle Coalition embodies the spirit of “cooperation among cooperatives” and united the national limited-equity cooperative community of over 165,000 units of housing, 40 organizations, and more than 100 practitioners across the U.S.
Because of Andy’s selfless dedication, constant innovation, and high achievement, low-income housing cooperatives in New York City exist and thrive. Strongly rooted in the communities he serves, Andy’s insight, experience, and tireless efforts has had a lasting and profound impact on the lives of thousands.