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Westhab’s Gracious Gouverneur Place Apartments Opens in the Bronx

04.28.2017


Cutting the ribbon at Gourverneur Place Apartments.

On a blustery April morning, Westhab opened a gracious new supportive housing residence, Gouverneur Place Apartments, in the Bronx. The residence features 68 units: 50 efficiency apartments for people with mental health challenges and 17 one, two, and three bedroom apartments for low-income individuals and families. Westhab is based in Westchester and has many supportive housing residences in that area – this is their first residence in New York City.

Westhab’s President & CEO Richard Nightingale welcomed the enthusiastic crowd and referred back to the blazing day in August two years earlier when Westhab had hosted the groundbreaking for this same property, “hopefully, our first of many in New York City!” NYS Office of Mental Health’s Moira Tashjian told attendees that actually, the genesis of the project could be traced back eight years, and that its successful completion is a testament to the powerful working relationships that have developed between City, State, and nonprofit partners.

The building features spacious apartments, a lovely outdoor courtyard, and many other on-site amenities including a computer lounge. On-site services are funded by the NYS Office of Mental Health.

Four of the building’s tenants spoke movingly about how this beautiful building has transformed their lives. Jeffrey Dantzler said “a year and a half ago, I was sleeping in chairs... it’s amazing that now I can put a key in my own door thanks to Westhab!”

UnitedHealthcare employees created move-in baskets for residents filled with household supplies and gift cards. UnitedHealthcare was also the tax credit investor.

Funding for the project was provided by NYS Office of Mental Health, NYS Homes & Community Renewal, the NYC Office of Environmental Remediation, and UnitedHealthcare through a partnership with Enterprise Community Partners, who was the tax syndicator. The residence’s architect was SLCE Architects and the contractor was Rende Contracting Corp.

| What's New, New York City, Openings


Thanks to Our Government Partners for $1 Billion in Supportive Housing Capital!

04.28.2017


Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, Senator Cathy Young, Senator Betty Little, and Assembly Member Steve Cymbrowitz being recognized for their critical support.

A press conference was held April 26th at the Capitol in Albany to thank our government partners and celebrate the successful culmination of the Campaign 4 NY Housing.  We now have an unprecedented capital commitment for 6,000 new supportive housing units over five years from New York State.

Senator Cathy Young, Chair of the Senate Finance Committee acknowledged the importance of supportive housing and the hard fight to achieve this victory.  We thanked Senator Young for co-leading the Senate support letter and being a real champion of supportive housing in her Western New York district.

Senator Betty Little, Chair of the Senate Housing Committee, spoke about how this program will address homelessness across New York, including our rural areas.  We thanked Senator Little for pushing for a comprehensive affordable and supportive housing plan while protecting the supportive housing commitment.

Assembly Member Steve Cymbrowitz, Chair of the Assembly Housing Committee, talked with pride about his experience as a nonprofit supportive housing developer and the many projects he funded while at HPD.  We thanked Chair Cymbrowitz for leading the Assembly in winning the largest supportive housing plan in our state’s history.

Assembly Member Andrew Hevesi, Chair of the Social Services Committee, finished the press conference by thanking the Campaign for a hard fought win.  We thanked him for his early support and leadership on many fronts, including hosting regional briefings that allowed the Campaign to make a compelling case for supportive housing to legislators across the state.

St. Catherine’s Center for Children of Albany crafted a thank you card for the legislature which will be placed on the supportive housing wall in Assembly Member Hevesi’s conference room.

After the event, Laura Mascuch and Steve Piasecki  made personal visits to thank some of the key legislative staff who made this victory possible.

| What's New, Funding, New York State


“No one is going to be thrown out on the street,”

04.19.2017


HUD Secretary Ben Carson addressing the National Low Income Housing Coalition Policy Forum.

Two Network staff members traveled to Washington, D.C. on April 2nd-4th to participate in the National Low Income Housing Coalition Policy Forum and Lobby Day. The event convened more than 300 housing advocates for a series of panels on topics ranging from effective communication strategies to policies for long-term rental subsidies, as well as keynote speeches by HUD Secretary Ben Carson and Congresswoman Maxine Waters (D-CA-43).

Secretary Carson assured the audience that “no one is going to be thrown out on the street” on his watch. In response to concerns about the administration’s proposed $6.2 billion cuts to HUD, he referred to a future infrastructure bill and explained that it would include a significant investment in housing. Carson also spoke about the importance of finding efficiencies in government programs and fiscal conservatism in light of the national debt.

In a speech that stood in stark contrast to Secretary Carson’s, Representative Waters spoke about her proposed Ending Homelessness Act of 2016, a $13 billion five-year initiative to fund housing and services for the homeless. The proposed legislation would permanently authorize the McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance Act and the U.S. Interagency Council on Homelessness. The latter program, which coordinates 19 federal agencies in a joint effort to end homelessness, would be eliminated by Trump’s proposed budget. Like New York City, Waters’ home district of Los Angeles has also seen homelessness increase, even as figures nation-wide have declined slightly.

On the final day of the Forum, advocates from 37 states visited their representatives on Capitol Hill for a Lobby Day. As a NLIHC state partner, the Network coordinated meetings along with our colleagues from NYCHA, Legal Aid Society, Picture the Homeless, LiveOn NY, Tenants and Neighbors, the Rochester YWCA, and New York Housing Conference. Meetings took place with senior staff for 13 representatives and the Senate Appropriations Committee, focusing on reforming the Low Income Housing Tax Credit and HUD funding for HOME Investment Partnerships Program, McKinney-Vento Homeless Assistance, public housing and Section 8. (See full NLIHC policy platforms here).

| What's New, Federal


Dedication of the Bishop Thomas Daily Residence

04.18.2017


Dignitaries at the dedication ceremony of Bishop Thomas Daily residence.

Some fifty partners, well-wishers and illustrious members of the Archdiocese of Brooklyn and Queens gathered to celebrate the dedication of one of New York’s earliest supportive housing residences as the newly refurbished Bishop Thomas V. Daily Residence on April 5th. First opened in 1985 by Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation, the former grammar school recently underwent a gut rehabilitation turning its SRO units into efficiency apartments, updating the building systems and adding six additional apartments!

Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens’ President and CEO Monsignor Alfred LoPinto welcomed the guests, inviting his Deputy CEO the Very Reverend Patrick J. Keating to give the opening prayer, with the Bishop of Brooklyn Nicholas DiMarzio offering the closing  prayer.

Karim Camara, the Executive Director of the Governor’s Office of Faith Based Community Development Services sent greetings from the Governor who was in Albany negotiating the budget (including $1 billion for supportive housing). “He wanted me to tell you that you make his work easier and to thank you.”

Among the other featured speakers was Msgr. Ralph Maresca, pastor of the St. Francis of Assisi parish who talked about Bishop Daily’s life-long commitment to serving the poor and who would regularly drive past empty buildings in Brooklyn and say “we should buy that building and fix it up for people who have no place to live.”

Also speaking was David Selby, a veteran who had moved into the Residence in July. “I’m a combat veteran so I’m usually the person taking care of people. Now I have a family that is taking care of me.”

The crowd included former Catholic Charities Progress of Peoples Development Corporation Executive Director and supportive housing founder John Tynan, who had helped create the original residence (that was run by Network Executive Director Laura Mascuch back in the day), new COO Christine Chisholm, and Deputy Borough President Diana Reyna.

The rehabilitation of Bishop Daily Residence was made possible with funding from NYS Homes and Community Renewal, NYC Housing Preservation and Development, Richman Housing Resources, and Wells-Fargo Bank. On site services at the residence are paid for by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and NYC Department of Homeless Services. MDG did construction on the project and Dattner Associates was the architect.

| What's New, New York City, Openings


NYS Budget Provides Funding for Five Years of Supportive & Affordable Housing

04.07.2017


Speaker Heastie, Governor Cuomo, and Majority Leader Flanagan

The Network would like to thank Governor Cuomo, Speaker Heastie, and Majority Leader Flanagan for funding five years of supportive and affordable housing to address New York’s homeless and affordable housing crisis.  On behalf of our community, our more than 200 supportive housing providers and the thousands more vulnerable homeless people they will now be able to serve, thank you.  This is a great day for New York.

The final FY2017-2018 budget details:

5 YEAR HOUSING & HOMELESSNESS PLAN

A total of $2.5 billion, including a re-appropriation of last year’s $1.97 billion, is contained in a 5 year housing and homelessness plan that includes funding for 6,000 units of supportive housing and 100,000 units of affordable housing. This final budget ends the requirement included in last year’s budget that the Executive and Legislative leaders negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) in order to spend the money.    The programs listed in the budget as part of this $2.5 billion appropriation include:

  • Supportive Housing. $950 million for the construction of 6,000 or more supportive housing units throughout the State;
  • New Construction. $472 million for new construction or adaptive reuse of rental housing affordable to households that earn up to 60 percent of area median income (AMI);
  • Senior Housing. $125 million for developing or rehabilitating affordable housing targeted to low-income seniors, aged 60 and above;
  • Rural and Urban Community Investment Fund (CIF). $45 million for mixed-use affordable housing developments that may  include retail, commercial or community development components;
  • Middle Income Housing. $150 million for new construction, adaptive reuse, or reconstruction of rental housing affordable to households that earn up to 130 percent of AMI;
  • Affordable Housing Preservation. $146 million for substantial or moderate rehabilitation of affordable multi-family rental housing currently under a regulatory agreement;
  • Mitchell-Lama Rehabilitation. $75 million to preserve and improve Mitchell-Lama properties throughout the State;
  • Public Housing. $125 million for substantial or moderate rehabilitation and/or the demolition and replacement through new construction of public housing authority developments outside of New York City;
  • Small Building Construction. $62.5 million for rehabilitation and/or the demolition and replacement through new construction of buildings of 5 to 40 units;
  • Home Ownership. $41.5 million for promoting home ownership among families of low and moderate income and stimulating the development, stabilization, and preservation of New York communities;
  • Mobile and Manufactured Homes. $13 million for mobile and manufactured home programs;
  • Main Street Programs. $10 million for stimulating reinvestment in properties located within mixed-use commercial districts located in urban, small town, and rural areas of the state;
  • New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA). $200 million for projects and improvements related at housing developments owned or operated by NYCHA.
  • New York City Preservation and Development. $100 million for preservation of multifamily housing with a preference for not-for profit agencies with community development experience.

In addition to the capital funding, $124.5 million for service and operating expenses for the first 6,000 units over the next 5 years was also re-appropriated from last year’s budget. This includes $74.5 million from JPMorgan settlement funds and an additional $50 million from last year’s budget.  There is no new funding committed for services and operating in this year’s budget.

Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance

  • Homeless Housing Assistance Program (HHAP) - $64 million ($500,000 INCREASE)
    The budget funds the HHAP capital development program at $64 million which is a $500,000 INCREASE from last year. A new provision added to this year’s budget allows up to $1 million of HHAP funding to be used for emergency shelter repairs in local social services districts with a population of less than five million. Also, while not part of this appropriation line, it should be noted that HHAP did not receive any additional MRT funding.  Until last year, $10 million in MRT capital had been added to HHAP in each of the previous 3 years.
  • Homeless Housing Prevention Services Program  - $35.38 million ($600,000 INCREASE)
    The budget increased the Homeless Housing Prevention Services (HHPS) Program by $600,000 from last year’s final budget.  HHPS funds the New York State Supportive Housing Program (NYSSHP), the Solutions to End Homelessness Program (STEHP) and the Operational Support for AIDS Housing (OSAH) Program. 

HOMES & COMMUNITY RENEWAL

  • Housing Trust Fund - $65.2 million  ($11 million INCREASE)
    The budget INCREASED the Housing Trust Fund by $11 million, up from $54.2 million last year.  These funds can be used for capital construction of both supportive and affordable housing.

OFFICE OF MENTAL HEALTH

  • Provide $10 million to Enhance Support for Existing Residential Programs. The budget increases funds for supported housing and single residence occupancy programs.

OMH/OASAS/OPWDD WORKFORCE

  • Increased salaries for direct care, direct support professionals who work in OPWDD, OMH and OASAS funded programs by 3.25% this January 1, 2018 and by another 3.25% in April 1, 2018. Increased salaries for clinical staff working in those same community agencies by April 1, 2108.
  • The budget invested $17 million to support the direct cost of FY 2018 minimum wage increases for direct care, direct support, and other workers at not-for-profits that provide services on behalf of OPWDD, OMH, and OASAS.
  • The budget language defers the COLA increase for 2017 until 2018.

| What's New, Funding, New York State


Federal Budget Update

03.20.2017

On March 16th, President Trump released a budget blueprint that proposes $6.2 billion in cuts to HUD funding. Overall, these cuts represent a 13.2% decrease in funding compared to FY16 levels: the largest cuts in housing assistance since the Reagan administration, which ushered widespread homelessness. These cuts are unacceptable and we are committed to fighting them.

The Trump budget eliminates the following programs:

The HOME program is a critical resource for supportive housing in New York, serving as a capital subsidy for congregate developments, as well as providing rental assistance to the homeless. Nationwide, every $1 of HOME capital funding leverages $4.20 of additional local public and private funding. Community Development Block Grants (CDBG) fund cities and towns across the state for capital projects and programs benefiting low- and moderate-income New Yorkers.

The budget blueprint presents questions: it outlines $4.1 billion in spending cuts but leaves the remaining $2.1 billion unexplained. According to the document released by the White House, the president’s budget “provides over $35 billion for HUD’s rental assistance programs and proposes reforms that reduce costs while continuing to assist 4.5 million low-income households.” It is unclear at this time how funding will be spread out over various voucher programs and where exactly cuts will be felt. The budget is also silent on Homeless Assistance, known as McKinney Vento funding.

The president’s budget does eliminate the US Interagency Council on the Homeless, which is charged with coordinating across the federal government to end homelessness.

Dr. Ben Carson was sworn in as HUD Secretary on March 2nd. He has started his “listening tour” across America. The Network, along with our fellow advocates, has invited him to New York to witness firsthand the success of our affordable and supportive housing programs and the devastating impacts these cuts would have.

The president’s proposal is subject to Congressional approval. The Network will be in Washington D.C. in early April with the National Low Income Housing Coalition, advocating for programs critical to supportive housing to members of the House and Senate. We will keep you posted as opportunities arise for you to participate directly in advocacy.

Please see our Executive Director Laura Mascuch's opinion piece in City and State's Slant.

| What's New, Funding, Federal


2017 Annual Meeting Recap

03.20.2017


Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer addressing the crowd at Scandinavia House.

Network members gathered on the evening of March 9 at Scandinavia House for the Network’s Annual Meeting. Nonprofit providers, architects, developers and other members of our community came together to meet, mingle and hear about the past year’s accomplishments.

Newly-appointed HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer addressed the 100 attendees before dashing off to attend a Town Hall meeting in Brooklyn. She expressed her delight at being named Commissioner, noting that although she had not worked specifically in housing, she had a long career in community and economic development most recently as Executive Vice President and Chief of Staff of the NYC Economic Development Corporation, as well as at her very first job in New York City working at  LISC.

Ms. Torres-Springer also spoke movingly about her lived experience of the importance of stable housing, having grown up  in Section 8 housing. She recounted how terrified her entire family became on the day of annual Section 8 recertification, knowing if it did not go well, her family would become homeless.  She effusively praised Network members, pictures of whose new residences graced the room, for the spectacular work they do every day housing New York’s most vulnerable individuals and applauded the Network as a national model for supportive housing advocacy.  

Executive Director Laura Mascuch then welcomed members and gave an update on the Network’s accomplishments in 2016 ending with a call to stay strong in the face of what will unquestionably be enormous challenges in 2017. But, she concluded, “we’ve always been fighters.”  Executive Director of Concern for Independent Living Ralph Fasano stood in for Network Board Chair Bill Traylor in welcoming guests, and, as Board Treasurer, presented the Network’s financials. Guests spent the evening networking, marveling at the beautiful new residences adorning the walls and showcased in a slideshow, as well as checking out a slideshow of photos from openings and other events from 2016. Catered by the incomparable City Beet Kitchen, the event once again reminded us how lucky we are to represent this stellar community.

| What's New, Network Events


New York State Budget Update

03.17.2017

This week, the Assembly and Senate approved their one-house budgets, which serve as their spending proposals in response to the Executive budget released in January.  There are no major changes to the programs important to supportive housing from the Executive proposal.   Here is a summary of key provisions.

5 YEAR HOUSING & HOMELESSNESS PLAN

Both the Senate and Assembly include a re-appropriation of last year’s $1.97 billion five-year housing and homelessness plan that includes funding for 6,000 units of supportive housing and 50,000 units of affordable housing over five years.  The five-year funding for supportive housing is the first installment on the Governor’s pledge of creating 20,000 units of supportive housing over the next fifteen years. However, the Senate reinstated language calling for a memorandum of understanding, which was left out of the other two proposals.  The Senate also failed to provide any detail about how that body proposes spending the $2.5 billion.  Here is a side by side comparison of the three plans:

In addition to the capital funding, $124.5 million for service and operating expenses for the first 6,000 units over the next 5 years was also re-appropriated in all three budgets. This includes $74.5 million from JPMorgan settlement funds and an additional $50 million from last year’s budget.  There is no new funding committed for services and operating in this year’s budget.

The Network continues to call on the governor and legislature to finish their jobs and finalize this five year agreement to include capital funding for 6,000 units of supportive housing by the March 31st budget deadline.

OFFICE OF MENTAL HEALTH

  • Both Assembly and Senate one-house budgets support the Executive plan to provide $10 million to enhance support for existing residential programs. The budget increases funds for supported housing and single residence occupancy programs. However, the Senate delays implementation until January 2018.

The Network will continue to fight for OMH budget increases for staff and programs, including our $35.7 million ask for rate increases for all OMH Housing. This includes those NY/NY 1 and 2 programs that have been left behind for too long. Stay tuned for information about a call-in campaign to legislators early next week.  

Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance

  • Homeless Housing Assistance Program (HHAP) - $64 million - $500,000 INCREASE
    The Assembly and Senate one-house budgets both fund the HHAP capital development program at $64 million which is a $500,000 INCREASE from last year, same as the Executive.  A new provision added to this year’s budget allows up to $1 million of HHAP funding to be used for emergency shelter repairs in local social services districts with a population of less than five million.
  • Homeless Housing Prevention Services Program  - $35.38 million - $600,000 INCREASE
    The Assembly and Senate kept the Executive’s modest $600,000 increase to the Homeless Housing Prevention Services (HHPS) Program.  HHPS funds the New York State Supportive Housing Program (NYSSHP), the Solutions to End Homelessness Program (STEHP) and the Operational Support for AIDS Housing (OSAH) Program.  The Assembly specified that the increase would go to the NYSSHP program.

The Network will continue to press for an additional $4.2 million in NYSSHP as part of the final budget deal.

HOMES & COMMUNITY RENEWAL

  • Housing Trust Fund - $65.2 million  - $11 million INCREASE
    The Executive budget proposes INCREASING the Housing Trust Fund by $11 million, up from $54.2 million last year.  These funds can be used for capital construction of both supportive and affordable housing.  Both Assembly and Senate support this.

Minimum Wage Increases for Direct Care Workers

All three budgets support the direct cost of FY 2018 minimum wage increases for direct care, direct support, and other workers at not-for-profits that provide services on behalf of OPWDD, OMH, and OASAS.

Delays Cost of Living Increases for Staff

The Assembly restores the COLA increases that the Executive and Senate defer.

The final budget now must be passed by the Legislature and signed by the Governor no later than March 31st. In the next few weeks, the Senate and the Assembly meeting in joint committees and negotiate with the Governor.

| What's New, Funding, New York State


Network’s Lobby Day : Meetings with 60+ Legislators in Albany

03.13.2017


Network members and Executive Director Laura Mascuch with Assembly Member Steven Cymbrowitz.

On March 1st, the Network hosted our annual Albany lobby day.  Over 130 of our members’ tenants and staff took part in over 60 legislative meetings, including face to face meetings with the Assembly Chairs of Social Services, Mental Health and Housing.

Our legislative agenda received robust bi-partisan support.  We continue to press for a complete affordable and supportive housing plan, to be funded at $2.5 billion.  This is the first step to implement the plan for 20,000 units of supportive housing over 15 years that the Governor announced in January of 2016.

We also pressed for $35.7 million to raise the rates for all Office of Mental Health Housing, which have been stagnant since the 1990s.  This includes OMH scattered site and also some NY/NY 1 and 2 projects that have not even seen meager increases.

Finally, we called for $4.2 million increase in the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance’s New York State Supportive Housing Program.  This would fund programs on the waiting list and restore cuts to existing supportive housing programs.

Thanks to all of our members who joined us for an amazing and effective day.

| What's New, New York State, Network Events


Bolting Up Ceremony for 1880 Boston Road Senior Apartments

02.27.2017


"Breaking ground" at 1880 Boston Road Senior Apartments.

On February 10th, 2017, the Hebrew Home at Riverdale, Foxy Management, and Alembic Community Development held a ‘bolting up’ celebration for 1880 Boston Road Senior Apartments – a project that will create  supportive and affordable housing on top of the building currently in existence  (hence the ‘bolting up’ instead of the traditional ‘groundbreaking’). This project is the first of Governor Cuomo’s Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI) awards to begin construction in New York City. Of the 168 total units, 51 units will be set aside for homeless and frail seniors.

The celebration was both star-studded and beautifully turned out, with giant black and white drawings of the future residence adorning the walls as well as a huge cake decorated with earth movers, accompanied by gold shovels with which to slice it!

NYS Senator Ruben Diaz opened the program, praising the project for filling an acute need. NYS Assembly Member Luis Sepulveda specifically commended the partners for creating housing that was “truly affordable.”

Council Member Rafael Salamanca presented Jeff Fox of Foxy Management a large check for Reso A money in support of the project. Recently appointed HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer was also on hand noting that, “this project helps complete part of the Mayor’s plan to build and preserve affordable and senior housing.”

Daniel Reingold of Hebrew Home at Riverdale spoke of how his agency created the first shelter for victims of elder abuse in the nation. He commented on the severity of the problem and said, “We are proud to be able to offer services to 51 formerly homeless seniors who may have suffered at the hands of another person. We are so happy to partner with Alembic and Foxy Management on this great project.”

1880 Boston Road Senior Apartments is a collaboration between NYCHA, NYS HDC, NYC HPD, NYC Council Member Rafael Salamanca and TD bank. Services will be funded by the Department of Health through an ESSHI award.  NYCHA contributed 168 Project Based Section 8 Vouchers, targeting seniors earning no more than $19,000 per year. HDC contributed $37.8 million in bond financing along with $9.2 million in subsidy. HPD’s SARA program was included in the financing as well. TD Bank provided a $38 million dollar credit enhancement. Council member Salamanca gave $728,000 in Reso A money to the project. Raymond James was the tax credit syndicator, architects were SLCE. The GC was Lendlease.

| What's New, New York City, Groundbreakings


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