On March 6th, Network Executive Director Laura Mascuch testified at the New York City Council Committee on Finance’s hearing for the Fiscal Year 2020 Preliminary Budget. She expressed gratitude on behalf of the supportive housing community for the City’s commitment to NYC 15/15 and the Council’s recent request to the administration for its acceleration. Laura then underscored the remaining, urgent need for at least $20 million in funding to augment woefully underfunded service and operating contracts in 1,800 scattered site units contracted by the Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH).Continue Reading
On March 13th, the New York State Assembly and Senate passed their budget bills, and began negotiations with the Executive office with the aim of passing a finalized budget by April 1st. For the latest information on the Prevailing Wage legislation, please visit this page.)Continue Reading
The Supportive Housing Network is excited to help announce the launch of the Down Payment Assistance Fund (DPAF), whose creation resulted from a multi-year collaboration among stakeholders seeking to accelerate supportive housing development in New York City. DPAF is intended to assist nonprofit developers with down payments on property, allowing them to move more rapidly into contract for privately-owned sites. The nonprofits’ ownership will ensure the long-term affordability of the housing developed with DPAF as well as provide critical social services. Eligible projects will include supportive housing residences, in which the majority of units are supportive, and affordable residences in which at least 30 percent of units are set aside as supportive.Continue Reading
For decades, community-based mental health housing has been consistently underfunded, endangering the wellbeing of 40,000 New York State residents who rely on these programs for support as they navigate living independently with serious and persistent mental health conditions.
In response to New York State dragging its feet on an issue that requires immediate and adequate fiscal support, a group of mental health housing providers, mental health advocates, faith leaders, and consumers came together to create the Bring It Home coalition. With a shared goal of ensuring sufficient and properly allocated funding for mental health housing programs, coalition members have been working tirelessly to help state leaders understand the gravity of the consequences should the mental health housing system fail.
Since the inception of our coalition in 2017, we’ve been taking action to enhance state lawmakers’ understanding of the crucial services provided by mental health housing programs. A number of local and state leaders joined us for tours of mental health housing facilities where they got to meet overworked and underpaid housing providers and staff, and see where funding is most desperately needed. Additionally, our advocates set up meetings with executive branch leaders to further the conversations surrounding the cycle of mental health housing and homelessness and how we can better support those afflicted with both through community-based housing programs.
We also created an e-mail campaign which gave supporters across New York the ability to send a message directly to Governor Cuomo’s inbox. As of February 2019, there have been 27,000 e-mails sent reminding the governor of his obligation to fund mental health housing programs that are critical to the recovery of so many New Yorkers.
This month, we started holding weekly rallies across New York State calling on Governor Cuomo and the legislature to significantly increase funding for life-saving mental health housing programs. Dozens of advocates, supporters, and residents have joined us to protest at state offices in Albany, New York City, Long Island (pictured above), Syracuse, Rochester, and Buffalo securing coverage in newspapers, television, and radio throughout the state.
Bring It Home knows that it will take $172 million, at a minimum, to stabilize approximately 40,000 units of mental health housing. We are advocating that it be added to the 2019/2020 state budget or, alternatively, that the Governor and Legislature add $32 million this year and in each of the next four years to address the crisis.
It’s encouraging to watch as the Bring It Home coalition expands its reach to all corners of New York State. We owe it to our friends, family, and neighbors whose lives have been touched by severe mental illnesses to do everything in our power to protect our state’s most vulnerable residents. As the Bring It Home coalition gains momentum, we look forward to finally seeing a better, stronger, and fully funded mental health housing system for all New Yorkers living with severe mental health conditions.
Updates on progress and information about upcoming events can be found on the Bring It Home Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram pages. For more information about the Bring It Home mission and data on the mental health housing funding shortfalls, visit BringItHomeNYS.org.
On November 19th, the Network submitted comments on the Community Reinvestment Act (CRA) regulations, in response to an Advanced Notice of Proposed Rulemaking (ANPR) issued by the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC), one of three federal entities that oversees the program. The CRA was passed in 1977 as a response to redlining, the discriminatory practice of denying investment and mortgage financing opportunities to communities of color. According to the statute, banks are required to meet the credit and deposit needs of the “communities in which they are chartered,” including low- and moderate-income (LMI) neighborhoods. Banks receive a rating based on qualitative and quantitative data in three areas: lending, services, and investment.Continue Reading
On November 29th, Governor Cuomo announced the winners for the first phase of the Vital Brooklyn RFP. The Network congratulates the winners, including Network members Services for the UnderServed (SUS), RiseBoro, CAMBA, Federation of Organizations, Apex Building Company, and MDG Design + Construction.Continue Reading
The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance’s Homeless Housing Assistance Program (HHAP) approved capital funding for eleven supportive housing projects, totaling $41 million during its first meeting of the fiscal year. About two thirds of the annual available HHAP allocation is now committed, due to the unprecedented demand for supportive housing projects, fueled in large part by the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI). Over $75 million in requests are lined up for the remaining $22 million in HHAP, making it probable that these funds will be exhausted by the next meeting in December.
Nine of the eleven projects that recieved this funding have already secured ESSHI grants and ten of the eleven awards were won by Network members. These projects will provide supportive housing for 276 individuals and families struggling with a wide range of life challenges that resulted in their homelessness. This includes trauma experienced by veterans as well as people escaping domestic violence. These awards cover the state from Niagara County in the west to Suffolk County in the East.
Here is the list of awardees:
St. Catherine's Center for Children, Inc., Albany County - $5.6 million
20 permanent supportive housing units
Rehabilitation Support Services, Inc., Albany County - $2.5 million
10 units of permanent supportive housing
Albany Housing Coalition, Albany County - $1.8 million
9 units of permanent supportive housing
New Destiny Housing Corporation, Bronx County - $5.7 million
37 units of permanent supportive housing
Unique People Services, Inc., Bronx County - $5.5 million
55 units of permanent supportive housing
CAMBA Housing Ventures, Bronx County - $7.5 million
87 units of permanent supportive housing
Odyssey House, New York County - $1.6 million
15 units of permanent supportive
YWCA of Niagara Frontier Inc., Niagara County - $1.4 million
8 units of permanent supportive housing
Finger Lakes United Cerebral Palsy, Inc., Ontario County - $1.9 million
9 units of permanent supportive housing
Mercy Haven, Suffolk County - $3.2 million
8 units of permanent supportive
Lakeview Health Service, Inc., Tompkins County - $3.7 million
18 units of permanent supportive housing
Congratulations to all the awardees!
On October 1st, the Network convened a panel on the NYC 15/15 Supportive Housing Initiative. A full audience of 85 of our nonprofit, corporate, and affiliate members, and government partners attended the panel entitled: NYC 15/15 in 2018: Development & Program Updates, presented by Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Assistant Commissioner, Special Needs Housing Emily Lehman, Human Resources Administration (HRA) Acting Deputy Commissioner, Office of Supportive/Affordable Housing & Services Jennifer Kelly, and Department of Health and Mental Hygiene (DOHMH) Senior Director, Housing Bureau, Gail Wolsk,. Attendees learned about the roles and coordination of the City agencies, the progress on the plan so far, and other valuable information about service models and development.
Jennifer Kelly of HRA emphasized the tremendous progress made so far in the ramp-up of the program, with service awards made for almost 2,700 units. In order to continue the progress, Ms. Kelly underscored the importance of providers taking the time to think about the questions in the RFP and how their program can take advantage of the unprecedented resources available to address the requirements.
Gail Wolsk of DOHMH explained the importance of integrating evidence-based and –informed practices in creating service models. She focused on how the enhanced resources available through NYC 15/15 can truly create a supportive housing program that has a holistic and, in the case of programs serving families, whole-family focus. Ms. Wolsk also explained best practices for program evaluation and staffing, and how property management staff and providers should collaborate. The audience learned about creating a service model that truly fulfills the goals of the ambitious NYC 15/15 initiative.
Emily Lehman of HPD guided the audience through the congregate development process and various HPD capital programs available to fund supportive housing units. Ms. Lehman explained the creation and success of HPD’s groundbreaking city-funded project-based rental assistance for NYC 15/15. The audience gained knowledge of how the capital process, services application, and rental assistance application all tie together, and how to best set up a team’s internal processes and timing.
For more information, access the PowerPoint from the event here. The Network looks forward to hosting more events as part of our Capacity Building Initiative as we strive to meet the development goals of the NYC 15/15 program and the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI) and get to 35k!
We are very grateful to Robin Hood for hosting this event in their offices and to our terrific presenters!
Enacted into law by the New York State legislature in 1983, the Homeless Housing and Assistance Program (HHAP) was the first program in the country to target substantial financial resources for the development of homeless housing. Administered by the New York State Office of Temporary & Disability Assistance (OTDA), HHAP provides capital grants and loans for the acquisition, construction or rehabilitation of housing for persons who are homeless and are unable to secure adequate housing without special assistance.
As anyone who develops supportive housing these days knows, acquiring a site is half the battle. It’s difficult to imagine now, twelve years into the NYC Acquisition Fund, how the supportive housing community would have fared without it.
The NYC Acquisition Fund (the Fund) was spearheaded by Shaun Donovan, then HPD Commissioner, in 2006, along with LISC, Enterprise, Forsyth Street, and the Rockefeller Foundation. It addressed a growing need to provide early stage capital to developers to acquire sites for affordable and supportive housing. In the eighties and nineties, when supportive housing was born in New York, dilapidated SROs abounded and tax-foreclosed properties could be transferred to nonprofits for a dollar, but by 2006 these options had dried up and nonprofits were competing in the marketplace for privately owned sites.
One of the best features of the Fund is that it provides loans at 130% of the property’s value, allowing nonprofits to have additional capital for predevelopment expenses. Many banks stay away from these loans because of their risky nature, but defaults are almost unheard of with the Fund because of close collaboration with government partners, who are engaged in all aspects of the deal at each stage.
“The Fund’s structure was novel,” says Brian Segel, senior vice president at Forsyth Street. Assembling capital from public and private philanthropic sources allowed for flexibility and a variety of risk appetites.
Since its inception, the Fund has enabled the creation of 24 supportive housing residences, serving 1,701 special needs tenants and providing an additional 952 affordable apartments for the community.
Judi Kende, vice president and New York market leader, Enterprise Community Partners notes that in addition to providing much-need affordable homes, the Fund “enables mission-driven, nonprofit and minority and women-owned enterprises to compete with market-rate developers. It is a testament to what can be accomplished when private and public partners come together to improve the lives of New Yorkers”
According to Sam Marks, executive director of LISC NYC, the Fund is “designed to share risk across the public, private, and philanthropic sectors, has proven incredibly flexible, and continues even today to innovate in response to the city’s evolving challenges and strategic priorities.”