History Of East River Housing Corporation
In 1930, and again in 1948, the Amalgamated Clothing Workers union (ACW), led by Sidney Hillman and Abraham Kazan, built limited-equity housing corporations on the Lower East Side (Amalgamated Dwellings and Hillman Housing Corporation, respectively), providing approximately 1,000 affordable cooperative apartments for union members and their families.
In the early 1950s the ACW joined forces with other labor unions, including the International Ladies Garment Workers Union (ILGWU), to create the United Housing Foundation (UHF) which built thousands of affordable limited-equity cooperative apartments throughout New York City. The UHF's first project on the Lower East Side was East River Housing Corporation.
East River opened in 1956 with nearly 1,700 limited-equity co-op apartments in a four-building complex. Each of the four buildings consists of three 20 or 21 story towers with a shared lobby. The complex also includes shopping, parking, parks & playgrounds as well as a boiler plant providing heat and hot water for the complex and for nearby Amalgamated Dwellings, Hillman Houses, and the not-yet-built Seward Park Houses.
These four housing cooperatives buit by the ACW and UHF came to be known, collectively, as Co-op Village. Co-op Village stretches along the eastern end of Grand Street from Essex Street all the way to the East River.
Demand for apartments in Co-op Village has always been high and the waiting lists for apartments were very long. As limited equity housing corporations, owners were not able to sell their shares in the corporation to buyers on the open market. Upon leaving the co-op owners sold their shares back to the corporation at no profit. In turn, the corporation sold the shares to the next person on the waiting list - again, at no profit.
Towards the late 1990s the shareholders in all four of the co-ops voted to reorganize and convert from limited-equity to free market. The waiting lists went away and owners were able to sell their shares directly to buyers at market prices.
Today, although prices are no longer artificially capped, Co-op Village apartments continue to be in high demand and offer great value at attractive prices.