Attorney General James Grants $1.6 Million To NYC For Affordable Housing

Attorney General James Grants $1.6 Million to NYC for Affordable Housing

Funds Will Be Provided to Community Land Trusts

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NEW YORK — Attorney General Letitia James announced that New York City received $1.6 million in affordable housing grants for the second round of the “Community Land Trusts Capacity Building Initiative,” which acquires and renovates distressed properties, provides training and technical assistance to homeowners, and creates permanent affordable housing for the benefit of low- and middle-income families.

“If we are to meaningfully address the affordable housing crisis, we need all partners at the table working together,” said Attorney General Letitia James. “This grant goes a long way towards helping local governments partner with community-based organizations to meet their local housing needs. Future generations of New Yorkers only stand to gain through innovative solutions supported through programs such as this.”

The grant provided is a continuation of the 2017 Community Land Trust Initiative, a program created by the Office of the New York Attorney General and Enterprise Community Partners to support the formation of six community land trusts in the state. This program also led to the creation of a CLT Learning Exchange comprised of nine community-based organizations, to address housing challenges, especially vacancy and blight, and to develop and promote new models of community ownership of affordable housing and community spaces.

“Enterprise is excited to provide this second round of funding to catalyze new Community Land Trusts and strengthen existing ones,” said Enterprise Community Partners Vice President and New York Market Leader Judi Kende. “CLTs give neighborhood residents the power to decrease displacement, ensure permanent affordability and, most importantly, make decisions about development in their own communities. This round of funding will deepen that work by supporting even more CLTs and expanding opportunities for local stakeholders to play an active role in revitalizing and preserving communities across New York.”

In New York City, the grants will be provided to Cooper Square Community Land Trust—founded in 1994—and the newly formed Interboro Community Land Trust. Cooper Square Community Land Trust, which has a portfolio of over 300 housing units, will receive a grant of $150,000. It plans to implement leadership development and trainings for CLT residents and increase public awareness about underutilized properties suitable for preservation and development. Meanwhile, Interboro CLT will receive $1.1 million, and plans to acquire 37 properties – including 33 city-owned homes – to stabilize and renovate homes for permanent affordable homeownership.

“Habitat for Humanity New York City is grateful for Attorney General James’ continued support of community land trusts,” said Habitat for Humanity New York City CEO Karen Haycox. “As co-founders of the Interboro Community Land Trust, we are grateful for new funding sources that will help to grow and expand this model across the five boroughs and New York State. Community land trusts are an important tool for advancing affordable homeownership and preservation initiatives and helping to ensure that communities can maintain their affordability in perpetuity.”

“We deeply appreciate the NYS Attorney General’s office and Enterprise Community Partners for allocating some $1.6 million to promote the creation and expansion of Community Land Trusts in NYC,” said Cooper Square Community Land Trust Project Director Valerio Orselli. “The funds allocated to a number of CLT’s around the City, including Cooper Square CLT, Interboro, and the New Economy Project will allow the groups to grow or to come into existence and deal with land initiatives in their many forms, from deeply affordable housing, to public amenities or the public use of land. It is a little used model to promote permanent affordability of housing in perpetuity. It has been successful on the Lower East Side of Manhattan and I see no reason why it cannot be widely emulated in all the five boroughs. This past July, using Enterprise funds, Cooper Square CLT, working with its recently created Two Buildings Tenants United HDFC, added two buildings (280 East 3rd and 230 East 4th Street) with 36 apartments to its portfolio of socially owned housing. We hope the City of New York, using this funding as an incentive, will work to make it easier for CSCLT and other CLTs to acquire additional properties to be utilized for permanently affordable housing.”

“We are thrilled that Interboro Community Land Trust will be receiving support to acquire and rehabilitate small homes in New York City so they will become permanently affordable homeownership,” said Center for NYC Neighborhoods CEO/Executive Director Christie Peale, a partner in Interboro CLT. "This funding will support pilot CLT programs that will help homeowners in financial distress and with severe repair needs keep their homes, before they are bought out by speculative investors. This is a tool we need to help people keep their homes, and we commend the Attorney General and Enterprise for investing in the future of affordable homeownership.” 

Moreover, the Department of Housing Preservation and Development of NYC and the New Economy Project will use $350,000 to support organizations across the city and to provide training and counseling for CLTs’ residents. They will also develop and promote new models of community-owned affordable housing and open-spaces.

“We recognize that our strength is in our partnerships. Through the use of Community Land Trusts we hope to leverage community-guided partnerships to create the strongest possible path toward a more affordable New York City,” said NYC Commissioner of Housing Preservation & Development Louise Carroll. “I would like to thank Attorney General James and Enterprise for their investment in Community Land Trusts, a useful and innovative tool that can augment our already robust set of programs to ensure affordability in neighborhoods all across New York City, from East Harlem to Jamaica, Queens.”

In addition to New York City, the grant awards a total of $7.8 million to nine cities and counties throughout New York State, ranging between $100,000 and $1,100,000 for each grant recipient. The grantees include the cities of Albany, Buffalo, Rochester, and Schenectady, as well as Broome, Nassau, Tompkins, and Suffolk counties. 

Enterprise Community Partners released a report on the impact of the first round of the Community Land Trust Initiative. Enterprise was able to leverage the initial grants into a $63 million investment for permanent affordable housing in NYC, Long Island, and Albany. The first round of the program resulted in the creation of 70 buildings or homes, 453 permanently affordable housing units, and 34 new positions or jobs.

The program also reserves $200,000 if the grantees need additional funding before the two-year program is complete.