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Community Connection

Stories of the work we do to improve low-income neighborhoods throughout New York City. Learn what’s happening at LISC NYC and in our communities by reading the updates below!

 

December 1, 2016

LISC NYC and NEF Support the FAC Renaissance Preservation Project

FAC Renaissance will renovate 21 buildings containing 146 units of affordable housing. Some of these buildings are pictured above.

Earlier in the year, LISC NYC partner Fifth Avenue Committee announced the FAC Renaissance project, which will renovate 21 buildings with 146 affordable units in Park Slope and Gowanus, most of which have rents of less than $650 per month. The rents will remain the same despite the major capital improvements being made to the buildings. The project has been divided into two phases and will result in development costs totaling $24.3 million. The project was made possible by direct loans from LISC NYC and TD Bank, as well as $13 million in tax credit equity syndicated by LISC NYC affiliate National Equity Fund (NEF).  Read the story!

 


November 3, 2016

St. Nicks Alliance Honors LISC NYC at Annual Awards Benefit

Photo: Stefano Giovannini

On November 2nd, LISC NYC was honored at the St. Nicks Alliance Annual Awards Benefit and 41st Anniversary Celebration. A generation ago, LISC NYC and St. Nicks joined forces to bring North Brooklyn back from a debilitating period of decline and disinvestment. Since then, LISC and National Equity Fund have financed 508 units of St Nicks’ affordable housing, representing an investment of over $83 million in total public and private investment. 

Read the story and watch this video about LISC NYC's work from the 1980s through today.

 


October 28, 2016

LISC NYC Teams up with NYC Small Business Services and Citi Community Development to Strengthen and Revitalize Commercial Districts across New York City

Photo by Ricky Flores

LISC NYC is thrilled to share news about the launch of its partnership with New York City’s Department of Small Business Services (SBS) and Citi Community Development on Neighborhood 360°, a new program that strengthens and revitalizes commercial corridors and small businesses that anchor New York City neighborhoods. It is LISC NYC's first major programmatic partnership with SBS focused on commercial revitalization. The partnership grew out of LISC NYC’s work with SBS to create a Commercial District Needs Assessment (CDNA) for community based organizations to gain baseline data and information about their local commercial corridors. 

Community-based organizations in Downtown Staten Island, East New York, East Harlem, Downtown Flushing, Inwood, and Jerome Avenue will be able to tap into approximately $3 million in program grants per year to fund revitalization projects, including merchant organizing, public programming, streetscape enhancements, business development, and other quality of life improvements.

LISC NYC will provide winners of the Neighborhood 360° grants with financial resources, expertise, and support with storefront improvements and retail attraction. Together, LISC NYC and Citi Community Development have contributed $525,000 to the initiative, enabling organizations to make visible and meaningful change in their communities in a relatively short time period.

Read the full story!

 


September 23, 2016

Acacia Network, Inc., LISC NYC, and Partners Celebrate the Groundbreaking of Acacia Gardens in East Harlem

The Acacia Gardens Groundbreaking. Source: NYC Council

On September 22, LISC New York City joined nonprofit developer Acacia Network, Inc. and other partners to celebrate the groundbreaking of Acacia Gardens, a mixed-use, 12-story building in East Harlem with 179 units of affordable housing for low-income, extremely low-income, and formerly homeless households.

In East Harlem, a historically disinvested neighborhood that in recent years has experienced rapid demographic change and rising rents, over half of families earn less than $35,000 annually. The Acacia Gardens development will provide low-income families with high-quality, affordable apartments, ensuring that they are able to remain in the neighborhood even as it continues to be transformed by new investment.

The total development cost for Acacia Gardens is $73 million. LISC NYC provided technical assistance for structuring the financing.

Read the full story!

 


August 25, 2016

LISC Invests in a New Building for The Equity Project Charter School in Manhattan

Students at TEP Charter School (Photo: TEP)

On August 4th, The Equity Project Charter School (TEP) closed on the financing required to construct a new $37 million middle school facility at 153 Sherman Avenue, less than a mile from TEP’s current trailers. 

The new 62,000 square foot facility for TEP’s 480 middle school students will include 20 classrooms, a full-size kitchen and cafeteria, a regulation-size gym, a performance space for TEP’s music program, and outdoor spaces for dining, recreation, and gardening.

The financing for the project was made possible through $12.27 million in New Markets Tax Credits allocations from LISC ($3.7 million), The Community Builders ($7 million), and Capital One ($2 million), a $17.25 million loan from Deutsche Bank’s Community Development Finance Group and LISC, and a $2.7 million bridge loan from LISC and Building Hope. Capital One is providing $4.3 million in NMTC equity. TEP has partnered with the West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing (WSFSSH) as the facility developer of the new building.

Read the full story!

 


August 23, 2016

LISC NYC Helps Bridge Street Development Corporation Preserve Kings Covenant Apartments

Vetria Davis, 70, has lived in her Kings Covenant apartment for 40 years. (photo credit: Kate Milford)

Through a $2.9M construction loan, LISC NYC is helping Bridge Street Development Corporation to preserve the Kings Covenant buildings, a collection of nine developments with a total of 74 apartments in the Brooklyn neighborhoods of Bedford Stuyvesant, Crown Heights and Park Slope.

The apartments were part of the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Third Party Transfer (TPT) Program, which targets properties that have substantial tax arrears and are in poor physical condition. 

The extensive renovations will include roof abatement, boiler replacement, fire escape repairs and new windows in the bathrooms and kitchens. The project is scheduled to be complete in 2018.

Read the story!

 


August 3, 2016

Construction Commences on Melrose Commons Supportive Housing in the Bronx

Representatives from NYC HPD, NYC HDC, The Bridge, LISC NYC, and other partners celebrate the groundbreaking for Melrose Commons Supportive Housing. (photo credit: Elena Olivo, The Bridge)     

LISC and the National Equity Fund (NEF), its tax credit investment affiliate, are committed to helping homeless veterans secure permanent housing so that they can achieve stability and self-sufficiency. Through the Bring Them HOMES veterans housing initiative, LISC and NEF have provided technical assistance and financing for the development of thousands of units of supportive housing for homeless veterans.

On Wednesday, August 3rd, LISC New York City and other partners joined The Bridge for the groundbreaking ceremony for Melrose Commons Supportive Housing, a 58-unit residential development serving veterans that will be built at 425 East 161st Street in the South Bronx. The total development cost of the project is approximately $25.2 million. NEF syndicated $10.87 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) for the project, and both LISC New York City and NEF provided pre-development funding via the Bring Them HOMES initiative. 

Read more!

 


July 29, 2016

In Brooklyn's Changing Bedford-Stuyvesant Neighborhood, LISC NYC Helps Students Gain a Deeper Understanding of Community Development

Lisa Cashin (far left) and the 2016 Cashin Fellows

Every summer, the New York City LISC Cashin Fellows program gives college and high school students the opportunity to gain valuable career experience in community development. LISC NYC works with Prep for Prep, an educational opportunity program for students of color, to identify students interested in urban policy and equitable development. Each Fellow is paired with a local community-based organization and becomes deeply involved in a wide variety of activities that include affordable housing development, community organizing, access to healthy foods, and economic development. The program is generously funded by LISC Board member Lisa Cashin.

On July 20th, the Cashin Fellows joined LISC New York City, Bedford Stuyvesant Restoration Corporation, and Bridge Street Development Corporation on a tour through Bedford-Stuyvesant, the neighborhood that served as the birthplace of community development. 

Read the full story here!

 


June 30, 2016

LISC NYC Selected for $500,000 Citi Foundation Community Progress Makers Grant

Photo: Ocean Bay Retail and Community Center, a LISC NYC-supported impact development project led by partners Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) and Ocean Bay Community Development Corporation in collaboration with the New York City Housing Authority.  Rendering courtesy of Edelman Sultan Knox Wood / Architects LLP

LISC NYC is thrilled to announce that in May we were awarded $500,000 from the Citi Foundation’s Community Progress Makers Fund, which recognizes visionary nonprofit organizations and new approaches to long-standing urban economic challenges in the United States!

The generous support from the Citi Foundation will support our efforts over the next two years to grow impact development initiatives, real estate projects that drive neighborhood economic development led by mission-oriented, community-based organizations committed to social change. This new injection of funds will help us bolster existing initiatives while opening up the door to new projects with local partners seeking to develop health care centers, grocery stores, business incubators, industrial “maker spaces,” community centers, arts and culture venues, and market spaces that benefit low-income residents. The Citi Foundation will also provide us with access to technical assistance from national experts and opportunities to share best practices among fellow grantees.

We are grateful for Citi’s long-standing support of our work. Read more about the award here!

 


May 16, 2016

Mt. Eden Youth Celebrate the “Fruits of Our Labor” Food Justice Mural in the Bronx

Daniel Datiz (left) and Rodney Nelson, high schoolers at CMSP 327, discuss their experience creating their food justice mura at the May 16th mural unveiling in the South Bronx.

A team of about 25 Mt. Eden youth artists began a mural project last year to illustrate the issue of food justice in their community. Now, they are unveiling the fruits of their labor.

The artists, high school students from Mt. Eden’s Comprehensive Model School Project 327, joined today with New Settlement Apartments, LISC NYC and Groundswell to unveil a public mural about food justice and the role that food workers play in bringing affordable, healthy food to New York.

The mural, called “The Fruits of Our Labor,” is located at the New Settlement Community Campus entrance at 1501 Jerome Avenue. It highlights the connection between the community of the South Bronx and the people who cultivate and prepare the South Bronx’s food, and was coordinated by New Settlements Apartments as part of LISC NYC’s Communities for Healthy Food program.

Read the story!

 


April 11, 2016

Community Development Practitioners Address the Future of CDCs at ANHD Conference

Sam Marks, center, addresses the audience during ANHD's Annual Policy Conference. The panelists were (left to right): Michelle de la Uz, Executive Director of Fifth Avenue Committee, David Goldstein, Managing Partner at Goldstein Hall, Walter Roberts, Executive Director of Hope Community Inc, Harry DeRienzo, Executive Director of Banana Kelly Community Improvement Association, John Reilly, Executive Director of Fordham Bedford Housing Corporation and Elizabeth Zeldin, Senior Program Director at Enterprise Community Partners

Community Development Corporations (CDCs) have historically been on the front lines of revitalizing their communities. Now, they are developing ways of revitalizing themselves as well.

That was the message delivered by wide-ranging panel of community development experts and executive directors from throughout New York City, who assembled on April 11, 2016 to discuss ways that CDCs are achieving scale to remain competitive in New York’s increasingly tough market.

Read the story!

 


March 3, 2016

LISC NYC and Partners Celebrate Success of NYC's First Financial Opportunities Center

From left to right: Judy Polyne, FAC’s Financial Coach, Joshua Owoeye, an FOC participant and Yannerys Castillo, FAC’s FOC Manager, at the NRTA graduation on March 3, 2016.

A total of 27 New York City public housing residents celebrated their graduation from the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Resident Training Academy (NRTA) program on Thursday March 3, in an event that highlighted the success of LISC’s first Financial Opportunity Center in New York City.

Since 2005, LISC has launched over 80 FOCs in partnership with neighborhood-based nonprofits across the country. The program bundles financial coaching, employment services and income supports to help families raise their standard of living.

Read the stories and see the photos

 


February 4, 2016

Affordable Housing Practitioners Tackle Neighborhood Change

Left to right: Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, 6th District, Daniel Hernandez, Deputy Commissioner for Neighborhood Strategies, NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development, Emilio Dorcely, President and CEO of Bridge Street Development Corporation, Kellie Terry, Program Officer, Sustainable Environments, Surdna Foundation, and Sam Marks, Executive Director, LISC NYC, during the Museum of New York’s panel on affordable housing.

A diverse panel of city officials, affordable housing developers and community advocates shared the stage at the Museum of the City of New York on February 4, 2016 to wrestle with the 21st century challenges facing affordable housing in New York.

The sold-out panel, called “Affordable Housing, Neighborhoods, and Communities,” was moderated by LISC NYC Executive Director Sam Marks and included panelists with both citywide and neighborhood perspectives: Emilio Dorcely, President & CEO of Bridge Street Development CorporationDaniel Hernandez, Deputy Commissioner for Neighborhood Strategies, NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD); CouncilwomanHelen RosenthalCity Council Member, 6th District and Kellie Terry, Program Officer, Sustainable Environments,Surdna Foundation

Read the full story!

 


December 23, 2015

 

In Support of ZQA

On December 10th, 2015, LISC NYC convened an informational panel on the City’s proposed amendment to the zoning text called, “Zoning for Quality and Affordability” (ZQA).  Representatives from the Department of City Planning, Howard Slatkin and Frank Ruchala, presented some of the proposal’s most salient components.

Several leaders from the community development field– including Michelle de la Uz from Fifth Avenue Committee, Thomas Yu from Asian Americans for Equality (AAFE) and Benjamin Dulchin from the Association for Neighborhood and Housing Development (ANHD) – also weighed in on the proposal's benefits and challenges.  

Some of the key points made by the panelists were:

  • The character of low-density, contextually zoned neighborhoods will not be materially affected with the increase of modest height restrictions for affordable and senior housing;
  • Community Development Corporations (CDCs) will have an easier time designing and building on irregular sites without having to get special city approvals that require extra time; 
  • Affordable housing developments will be better integrated into the street landscape with the addition of design elements such as bay windows and first-floor units that are elevated above the sidewalk; and
  • Retail spaces on the ground floor will be improved through additional floor-to-ceiling height.

Based on our analysis, and very helpful input from these key partners and others from the field of nonprofit affordable housing and community development, we believe that ZQA will strengthen and incentivize affordable housing development in NYC while preserving the character of contextually zoned neighborhoods. On December 16, 2015, Edward Ubiera, LISC NYC’s Director of Policy, delivered testimony to the City Department Planning Commission in support of ZQA.

 


December 22, 2015

Perspectives on Solutions for Restoring Neighborhoods: A National Conversation in New Orleans 

by Jordana Vazquez

LISC NYC Project Manager

I recently attended Solutions for Restoring Neighborhoods, a two day conference sponsored by the National Housing Conference in New Orleans that focused on the social and economic issues facing urban areas throughout the country. The workshops explored ways that housing is a nexus connected to education, transportation, economic development, health, the environment, public safety and other social issues.

Like LISC and our community partners here in New York City, the presenters were concerned about the long-term sustainability of urban areas in face of natural disasters, as well as issues of displacement in newly gentrifying places were people are struggling to maintain affordability of their housing. Workshop sessions provided examples of state and local efforts, and the plenary sessions discussed federal housing policy. It was interesting to hear people talk about ways that maintaining strong cultural connections through music and the arts – as New Orleans residents did after Hurricane Katrina – can help restore neighborhoods and bring about economic resurgence. 

This amazing experience of connecting with fellow practitioners from around the country allowed me to learn about some new and innovative approaches to neighborhood rehabilitation, resilient design, and community development. I believe what I learned will truly inform my Hurricane Sandy housing recovery work here at LISC NYC.