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Showing Posts by Date: 10/2017

Joint Venture Panel and ESSHI State Partners Panel in Rochester


Network members and panelists at our Rochester Capacity Building Initiative events.

On October 12th, the Network convened partners in Rochester for two events focused on meeting the ambitious new statewide supportive housing development goals.

In the morning, representatives from twenty of our nonprofit members participated in a workshop titled Joint Ventures: What’s on the Table. Expert panelists included Kevin Hoffman of Richman Housing Resources, Karen Sherman of ShermanLaw, Michael Claisse of Bank of America, and Monica McCullough of MM Development Advisors. Attendees learned about the basics of Low Income Housing Tax Credit development, risks and rewards of tax credit projects, and what questions to ask when negotiating a joint venture development agreement. Whether they were new to development or had participated in dozens of deals, attendees walked away with a deeper understanding of how to approach a joint venture agreement and how to arrive at a deal that works best for the needs of their organizations. The Network looks forward to more programming on joint ventures as we strive to meet the development goals of the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI).

Additional members from banks, tax credit syndicators, and for-profit developers joined us for a packed afternoon panel on ESSHI. Moderated by the Network’s Laura Mascuch, the panel featured Moira Tashjian of the NYS Office of Mental Health, Richard Umholtz of the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, and Leonard Skrill of NYS Homes and Community Renewal. Panelists reflected on the past year of ESSHI and answered questions about the program’s implementation moving forward. According to the panelists,  there were 182 applications in year two: 169 proposals with a total of 5,453 units received conditional awards.

Participants shared a great deal of information about the evolution of the initiative and imparted important information about conditional and permanent awards. To move from conditional to permanent award status,, a project must have all of its capital financing in place. Additionally, although the number of units in the project can change as the project moves forward, neither the population nor location may change from the conditional award. If groups are not 100% sure about their site location, it would be more prudent to not list the site.  We are deeply grateful to Providence Housing Development Corporation for hosting this day in their beautiful Bishop Hickey Conference Center and to our generous panelists.

Check for upcoming events related to our Capacity Building Initiative here.

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



Cutting the ribbon at 411 Vanderbilt.

On an unseasonably warm sunny morning in late October, some fifty friends, staff, partners and well-wishers gathered in the front yard of 411 Vanderbilt to celebrate the long-awaited opening of Project Hospitality’s (PH) first single site supportive housing residence in its 35 year history of serving homeless people on Staten Island. The project was also the first New York City project funded through the state’s Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (and only the second supportive housing residence to open on Staten Island). Both Project Hospitality’s first Executive Director -- now CEO – Rev. Terry Troia and its new Executive Director Carrie Bloss were on hand to do the honors, as they helped cut the ribbon on 16 beautiful new apartments for formerly homeless individuals.

Project Hospitality Board Chair Rabbi Gerald Sussman told the story of the organization’s twenty five year effort to build 411 Vanderbilt, which included multiple owners reluctant to sell, a long stretch in which the building was inhabited by squatters, and a fire that pretty much destroyed the building. Through the vision and tenacity of Project Hospitality and the project’s architect Amie Gross, its contractor Mammoth Construction, as well as important funders, 411 Vanderbilt literally rose from the ashes.

Kimberly Smith of the Office for Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) was not the first or last speaker to acknowledge the difficulties in developing this project. Ms. Smith and OTDA’s Dana Greenberg presented Project Hospitality with a certificate of recognition from Commissioner Roberts as well as greetings from the Governor.  Project Hospitality, for their part, gave out plaqued bricks to significant project partners including CSH, Capital One Richmond County Savings Foundation and the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

CSH’s Kristin Miller – whose organization had loaned PH the money to acquire the property -- noted that it had taken 25 years to make a loan for supportive housing on Staten Island, and predicted the next loan would not take as long.

Capital One’s Heather Gershen pointed out that it “takes a village” not just to support our most vulnerable neighbors, but to support the groups that support them as well.

Arthur McCarthy of Mammoth Construction told listeners that he never forgot where he came from – a modest upbringing -- and that his “heart goes out to people who haven’t been as lucky.” He then proceeded to offer a check for $2,500 in his recently passed father’s name to be used to fill the refrigerators of the 16 people who would be moving into 411 Vanderbilt over the next few days.

Also on hand were representatives from Richmond County Savings Foundation, HUD, OASAS, the Staten Island Foundation, the Network and HSU.

411 Vanderbilt was funded by HUD, OTDA, CSH, Deutsche Bank, Capital One and the aforementioned foundations. Service funding will come from the NYS Department of Health. 

| What's New, New York City, Openings

Beautiful Renaissance Village Opens in Middle Island, NY


Beautiful Renaissance Village in Middle Island, NY. Photo credit: Kimathi Witt (2017 Tenant of the Year).

On October 16th,  a beautiful, autumn day, Concern for Independent Living celebrated the opening of Renaissance Village, a 123-unit mixed-income supportive housing development in Middle Island, Suffolk County. Renaissance Village provides 50 units for homeless adults with mental health challenges who are high Medicaid users, 72 units for low-income individuals and families, and one superintendent unit.

After a warm welcome from Concern’s Executive Director and Network Board Treasurer Ralph Fasano, Gail Lynch-Bailey, President of the Middle Island Civic Association, spoke movingly about how Renaissance Village is “not only a rebirth for all the people who are starting new lives, but for those of us who have been here a long time, and awaiting a rebirth for our community.”

NYS Homes & Community Renewal (HCR) Assistant Commissioner Sean Fitzgerald was honored by Concern at the opening for the integral part he’s played in making Concern’s many supportive and affordable housing projects a success.

Other dignitaries who spoke at the opening included Commissioner Ann Marie T. Sullivan of NYS Office of Mental Health (OMH) who said “what is really successful is when individuals who are living with mental illness have the opportunity to become part of the community that will help them traverse that road of hope and recovery and that’s what you’re doing here;” Commissioner Samuel Roberts of NYS Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance (OTDA); Steven Bellone, Suffolk County Executive; Supervisor Edward P. Romaine, Town of Brookhaven; Sarah Anker, Legislator, Suffolk County; Councilman Michael Loguercio, Town of Brookhaven; Brian Loeb of Federal Home Loan Bank of New York; and Maurice Coleman of Bank of America.

Formerly underutilized land in the heart of Middle Island, Renaissance Village now features nine townhouse-style buildings; a community center with exercise room, a computer room, and ample outdoor space for residents to enjoy.

Funding for Renaissance Village was provided by HCR, OMH, Bank of America, County of Suffolk, Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, and Astoria Bank.

The development team included the law firms of Russo, Karl, Widmaier & Cordano, and Nixon Peabody, the project’s attorneys; Belfor Long Island, the general contractor; DeLaCour, Ferrara & Church, the project architect; and Betts Housing Consultants. 

| What's New, Member News, Openings

A Spectacular 2017 Network Awards Gala


Network Executive Director Laura Mascuch addressing the crowd at the 2017 Network gala.

New York's supportive housing community came together on October 18th for our annual Network Awards Gala in a year of beginning to implement the historic commitments from the Governor and Mayor for 35,000 new units of supportive housing.

More than 600 guests joined us at Capitale to celebrate a few outstanding individuals and our amazing community. The mood was festive during the 90 minute cocktail hour as friends and colleagues revived old friendships and forged new ones.

The night’s festivities continued with our awards ceremony. This year we honored Deutsche Bank as our Private Sector Partner of the Year, and RuthAnne Visnauskas as our Government Partner of the Year, as well as three remarkable tenants and two outstanding residences.

Network Board Chair and Breaking Ground President & CEO Brenda Rosen welcomed the crowd, and introduced the Network’s Executive Director, Laura Mascuch, who expressed her heartfelt thanks to the Network’s Board, staff and the community for all their support. Ms. Mascuch also offered special thanks to our gala fundraising committee chaired by Ralph Fasano of Concern for Independent Living and Hercules Argyriou of Mega Contracting.

Milagros Bursey, of the YWCA of Rochester, accepted the first of the evening’s three Tenant of the Year awards from the Network’s Sydney Kopp-Richardson. Ms. Bursey spoke forcefully about the difference supportive housing – and the YWCA of Rochester – had made in her life, after struggling with homelessness, domestic violence, and myriad health challenges.

The Network’s Steve Piasecki presented our upstate Residence of the Year award to Melissa O’Geen of DePaul for their gorgeous Carriage Factory Apartments, serving a mix of formerly homeless and low-income individuals and families.

Kimathi Witt of Concern for Independent Living, accepted the second of the evening’s Tenant of the Year awards from the Network’s Ms. Kopp-Richardson. Mr. Witt spoke movingly about how connecting with Concern for Independent Living was the key to turning around a life full of challenges including undiagnosed manic depression and homelessness. Since moving in with Concern, Mr. Witt has reunited with his son, married his girlfriend, completed one Master’s degree, was inducted into the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society, and started a successful photography business.

Former Network Board Chair William Traylor, President of Richman Housing Resources, welcomed John Kimble of Deutsche Bank to the podium to receive our Private Sector Partner of the Year award on behalf of Deutsche Bank. Mr. Traylor highlighted the huge impact that Deutsche Bank has made on New York supportive housing. Mr. Kimble spoke about the importance of explicitly acknowledging issues of social justice in our work, in particular, the impact of racial inequity –as well as working to champion racial equity in our own organizations and partners.

The Network’s Cynthia Stuart presented the second Residence of the Year Award to Robert Sanborn and Brian Bardell of Volunteers of America-Greater New York for the beautiful Creston Avenue Residence. Jessica Katz, Associate Commissioner of NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, presented our Government Partner of the Year award to RuthAnne Visnauskas, Commissioner & CEO of NYS Homes & Community Renewal. Ms. Visnauskas spoke to her long career in supportive and affordable housing starting with Clinton Housing, her time at NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development and now at NYS Homes and Community Renewal implementing the very ambitious 20,000 supportive housing unit commitment.

The final Tenant of the Year Award was presented to Robert Offley of Urban Pathways by Ms. Kopp-Richardson. Mr. Offley spoke about the decades he spent living on the streets before finding a new life thanks to supportive housing. His emotional ‘thank you’ to Urban Pathways and all those assembled won a standing ovation.

The evening ended with more cocktails, conversation, and delicious desserts!

You can also read more about each of our honorees by following the links here and check out the photos of the evening.

We hope to see you at next year's Gala!

| What's New, Network Events

NYC 15/15 Panel with HRA, HPD, and DOHMH


A full house at the Network's NYC 15/15 panel.

Some 90 providers, investors, lawyers and city and state government representatives gathered at Fortune Society’s Castle Gardens on September 28th to hear about the City’s NYC 15/15 initiative which seeks to create 15,000 new units of supportive housing over the next fifteen years. The panel, moderated by our own Laura Mascuch, featured HRA Deputy Commissioner of Supportive/Affordable Housing & Services Kristin Misner Gutierrez, HPD Deputy Director of the Supportive Housing Loan Program Theresa Cassano, and DOHMH Senior Director, Office of Housing Services Gail Wolsk.  Of special interest to those in attendance was information about the City’s newly minted rental assistance program which will be separate from service contracts and entirely funded by the City’s tax levy funds.

Stanley Richards of Fortune Society welcomed guests with a wish that the residence in which the panel was situated served as an inspiration to those developing the next wave of supportive housing.

Kristin Misner Gutierrez presented a quick overview of NYC 15/15 – both the congregate and the scattered site programs. She summarized the six month process through which the City and the provider community  used data and on-the-ground experience to develop recommendations for improving systems and rates, recommendations that the City then integrated into NYC 15/15. She also laid out the City’s expectations as to how many units will go to which populations, both in terms of scattered site and single site units.

Gail Wolsk then summarized some of the innovations in service contracts that are new under NYC 15/15, including 1:15 caseloads, programs for families that must include services for children, and the requirement that services be evidence-informed.

Theresa Cassano then took over, laying out for the first time the City’s rental assistance program that will be paired with the NYC 15/15 service contracts. She explained that both service and rental assistance contracts can be used in a number of HPD programs beyond the Supportive Housing Loan Program, including ELLA and Mix and Match. The new subsidy will closely resemble Project Based Section 8, although, because the funding is all City tax levy, the subsidy will not trigger Davis-Bacon. Ms. Cassano told attendees that HPD has been meeting with both providers and investors about the subsidy program to address questions and concerns.

The presentation was followed by a lively question and answer period covering a range of concerns about both the scattered site and the single site programs. Panelists also stayed after the session ended to answer participants’ questions one-on-one.

Stay tuned for a Guest Blog Post from the three participants answering frequently asked questions.

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