Common Ground, Non-Profit Affordable Housing Developer, Expands Portfolio of Housing for Low-Income and Formerly Homeless Adults
NEW YORK – On Thursday, April 7, 2011 at 10 AM, New York City Department of Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond, Department of Housing Preservation and Development First Deputy Commissioner Doug Apple, and Common Ground held the official opening and ribbon-cutting ceremony for The Lee, a new 263-unit supportive housing development for low-income New Yorkers located at 133 Pitt Street on Manhattan’s Lower East Side. The $59 million building will expand the extensive portfolio of supportive and affordable housing that Common Ground provides in the New York metropolitan area.
The Lee was developed under the City’s New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP), which was launched by Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg in 2003. The Plan, to build or preserve 165,000 units of affordable housing by 2014, has resulted in more than 112,000 units financed to date throughout the city. Through contracts such as High Needs 2, New York New York III, and other supportive housing initiatives, the City has financed nearly 3,100 units of supportive housing since 2005.
“This is our fifth building in Manhattan, and it adds considerably to our portfolio of affordable and supportive housing,” said Brenda Rosen, Acting Executive Director of Common Ground. “Like all of our housing, it will act as a catalyst for community revitalization while also supporting our mission to end homelessness."
Within The Lee, 104 units are reserved for formerly homeless adults, including those with special needs, and 103 units are reserved for low-income single adults from the Lower Eastside. Common Ground’s service partner for adult tenants, CUCS (Center for Urban Community Services), will provide on-site social services through a team of social workers and other professionals. All of the units will be affordable to low-income New Yorkers earning no more than 60% of the Area Median Income, or what is equal to an annual income $33,300 for a single person. The Lee will also be home to Common Ground’s second Foyer Program, with 55 units reserved for youth aging out of foster care and at risk of homelessness. Comprehensive youth development services will be provided by The Door, including social services and referrals to education, job training, health, legal and recreation services.
“Supportive housing such as The Lee offers a quality facility along with important social services to help ensure stable and lasting housing for those who were previously homeless,” said Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond. “This beautiful building will serve as home to many who once slept on the street and will transform lives, while contributing to the surrounding neighborhood in a positive light.”
“The Lee not only offers safe, new affordable homes, but also couples valuable supportive services with a stable environment that will help our new tenants embark on the next chapter of their lives,” said HPD First Deputy Commissioner Douglas Apple. “I would like to thank HDC and all of our public and private partners, including Common Ground who has shared in our commitment to expand the city’s affordable supportive housing stock for those New Yorkers most in need.”
Later this year, Common Ground will also celebrate the opening of an additional building it has developed to provide supportive housing in Brownsville, Brooklyn – adding 72 more units of affordable housing, for a total of almost 2,800 units created or managed by Common Ground in New York City.
CUCS Executive Director Tony Hannigan says, "We have been Common Ground’s social services partner since 1991, and we are proud to join with them once again to help rebuild lives of homeless New Yorkers."
Michael Zisser, Chief Executive Officer of The Door, stated: “We are excited to partner with Common Ground on this initiative, especially now at a time when homelessness is on the rise for youth in New York City and services are decreasing. Providing a stable home and comprehensive support for young people at-risk ensures a brighter future for the entire city.”
The total development cost for the project was $59 million. HPD provided financing of $24.6 million and the New York City Housing Development Corporation provided $31 million in tax-exempt bond financing during the construction period. J P Morgan Chase Bank and the Low Income Investment Fund provided acquisition financing. Chase also provided the construction letter of credit. Wells Fargo Community Lending and Investments provided tax credit equity of $22 million. The NYS Homeless Housing and Assistance Program provided capital financing of $6.5 million. Other capital sources included the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, Manhattan Borough President Scott M. Stringer, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the Lower Manhattan Development Corporation, the Larson Family Foundation, the New York State Energy and Research Development Authority, HSBC Bank, and deferred developer’s fee.
The new 105,000 square-foot building boasts a community event space available to neighborhood residents and organizations, a large courtyard garden, computer lab, fitness room, on-site laundry and 24-hour security. Environmentally sustainable features include a green roof, a state-of-the-art high efficiency building management system to control temperature, light and motion sensors, low-VOC paints and materials and high-efficiency boilers.
The building architect is Kiss + Cathcart, Architects; the general contractor is West Manor Construction Corporation.
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About Common Ground:
Common Ground is a nationally respected leader in efforts to end homelessness and one of the largest developers and managers of supportive housing in the nation. It also operates, under contract with the NYC Department of Homeless Services, outreach programs that target people living on the streets in parts of Manhattan and all of Brooklyn and Queens. For additional information, visit www.commonground.org.
Founded in 1979, CUCS is a not-for-profit providing direct services throughout New York City and training, technical assistance and research for a national audience. CUCS’ mission is to end homelessness for as many people as possible and provide opportunities for low income individuals and families to be productive members of the community. For additional information, visit www.cucs.org.
About The Door:
Founded in 1972, The Door empowers educationally and economically disadvantaged youth to reach their potential by providing a complete range of services all under one roof. Each year over 11,500 young people from all five New York City boroughs come to The Door for primary health care, reproductive care, and health education; mental health counseling; legal services; GED and ESOL classes; tutoring and homework help; college preparation; career development services, job training and placement; daily meals; supportive housing services; and arts, sports and recreational activities. Located in downtown Manhattan and easily accessible from all subway lines, The Door’s services are free, confidential and geared towards youth aged 12-21.
About Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan:
New York City’s affordable housing program to build or preserve 165,000 units of housing — enough to house half a million New Yorkers — is the most ambitious and productive in the nation—creating housing as well as jobs for New Yorkers. In April, 2010 the City reached the critical benchmark of 100,000 units financed—representing an investment of $4.5 billion to date by the City, not including roughly $5 billion in bonds issued by HDC.
The Plan has been recast to maintain production momentum while confronting head-on the economic challenges facing the City, the State, the housing industry, the financial sector and individual New Yorkers and their families. In order to fulfill the NHMP goal of 165,000 units, HPD and the NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC) are responding to market realities and focusing on three primary goals: strengthening neighborhoods, expanding the supply of affordable and sustainable housing and stabilizing families by keeping them in their homes. To read more about the NHMP, please visit http://www.nyc.gov/html/hpd/html/about/plan.shtml.
About the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD):
HPD is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and viable neighborhoods for New Yorkers through education, outreach, loan and development programs and enforcement of housing quality standards. It is responsible for implementing Mayor Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to finance the construction or preservation of 165,000 units of affordable housing by 2014. Since the plan’s inception, more than 112,000 affordable homes have been created or preserved. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/hpd.
About the NYC Department of Homeless Services (DHS):
DHS prevents homelessness wherever possible and provides short-term emergency shelter and re-housing support when needed. These goals are best achieved through partnerships with those we serve, public agencies and the business and nonprofit communities. By working in partnerships, Homeless Services finds that it can best assist low income New Yorkers eligible for our services. Under Mayor Bloomberg’s leadership, the Department of Homeless Services has placed over 260,000 individuals into permanent housing. For more information, visit www.nyc.gov/dhs.