The partners open 161 units of affordable/supportive housing in the first building to complete construction within the larger La Central complex.
On the morning of Oct. 29th, local and state government representatives, funding and development partners, and community members gathered in the Bronx for Breaking Ground and Comunilife’s ribbon-cutting at the transformational La Central development. The partners opened a 161-unit affordable/supportive housing residence, which includes 97 supportive units specifically for individuals who are formerly homeless and/or living with HIV/AIDS.
Brenda Rosen, President and CEO of Breaking Ground, emceed the program. She said that the work of street outreach teams “keeps Breaking Ground aware that the need is so high” for residences like this.
Rosa Gil, President and CEO of Comunilife, which is providing the on-site supportive services, greeted the crowd with a “Buenos Dias! This is a day to celebrate,” and said La Central represented how “dreams do come true.”
Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz described the empty lots that once existed there as looking “war-torn.” “This is more than brick and mortar,” he said, “because we’re building with purpose, intention, and passion.”
District 17 Council Member Rafael Salamanca, Jr., said, “This is exactly what we need in this community – we must ensure we are taking care of the most vulnerable.”
Vicki Been, NYC Deputy Mayor for Housing and Economic Development, said, “Sometimes it’s easy to look away from the people on the street, but they are somebody’s mother, father, brother. They deserve a safe place to sleep.” She emphasized that La Central was an investment in the neighborhood’s future.
Fran Barrett, NYS Interagency Coordinator for Nonprofit Organizations, called La Central “a triumph for the nonprofit sector” and “a testimony to the resilience of nonprofits, who had vision – and delivered.”
RuthAnne Visnauskas, Commissioner/CEO of NYS Homes & Community Renewal (HCR), also highlighted the nonprofits’ amazing work, calling the project “A phoenix rising from the ground.”
Louise Carroll, Commissioner of the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), said, “We believe in supportive housing as the way for people to thrive.”
Other speakers included Senator Luis R. Sepulveda representing the 32nd Senate District; Dana Greenberg, Vice President of the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance/Homeless Housing and Assistance Corporation (OTDA/HHAC); Veronica Kelleher, Vice Chair of the Comunilife Board of Directors; and Jennifer Trepinski, Director of Loan Originations at the Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH).
The building is environmentally friendly, featuring ultra-efficient fixtures and appliances, and a landscaped roof with solar panels. The building is the first of five mixed-income apartments that will eventually be built at La Central, alongside a new YMCA, television studio for BronxNet, skate park, and a host of retail, community, and recreation spaces.
Comunilife is providing the supportive services with funding from the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI) and the NYC Human Resources Administration (HRA) through the HIV/AIDS Services Administration (HASA).
The project was also funded by NYS HCR, NYS OTDA/HHAC, and NYC HPD. Private funding partners included Wells Fargo and CSH. The environmental clean-up of the vacant parcel of land was funded in part by the NYC Office of Environmental Remediation.
The building was designed by FXCollaborative and MHG Architects, and the general contractor was Monadnock Construction, Inc.