Vacant building to be converted to affordable housing and serve as home to the NAACP and Buffalo Black Achievers
Congressman Brian Higgins and City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown joined the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York in announcing the award of a $300,000 grant to Belmont Housing Resources for Western New York to help finance the Bellamy Commons project, which involves the conversion of a vacant former community center into 30 affordable housing units.
"This is one piece of a collaborative puzzle that will support a fantastic effort to breathe new life into this site," Higgins said. "We applaud the many project partners and look forward to giving the community new affordable housing options."
"Today's grant award for the Bellamy Commons project is a good example of how the federal government continues to be a strong city partner by making key investments, which, in this case, will help transform an important building in the Jefferson Avenue Commercial District into a mixture of low-income apartments, an NAACP office and a Black Achievers Museum dedicated to telling local African-American success stories," said Brown, noting the city is contributing $800,000 from a variety of funding sources. "This is an important project and we appreciate the support of Congressman Higgins, as well as Gov. Cuomo, State Assemblymember Peoples-Stokes and State Sen. Kennedy, for this investment in the Buffalo community."
"For the past 25 years, the Affordable Housing Program has been a reliable partner for Buffalo's outstanding housing organizations and the much-needed support they provide," said José R. González, president and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York. "We are proud to continue this partnership today as we join with Congressman Brian Higgins, Mayor Byron Brown and Evans Bank to award this $300,000 grant to help build Bellamy Commons."
The Bellamy Commons project will turn the former community service center, at 1490 Jefferson Ave., into 30 affordable rental units for low-income households. Five of the units will be handicap accessible, three units will be designed for individuals with mobility impairments, and two units will be designed for individuals with vision or hearing impairments. Priority for these accessible units will be given to persons who have served in the armed services for at least six months and have been honorably discharged due to injury incurred during such service.
The FHLB award will allow for additional energy-friendly "green" components to be incorporated into the project.
Evans Bank submitted the application for this funding. Additional federal, state, city and private funding will support the project. In addition to housing, Bellamy Commons will host offices for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, and Buffalo Black Achievers Inc.
"As a financial institution with values rooted in community, Evans is honored to support the rebuilding of Bellamy Commons," said David Nasca, president and CEO of Evans Bank. "Assisting in the development of quality, affordable housing is part of Evans' continued commitment to the revitalization of Buffalo and all of Western New York. Together with the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York and our partners, this grant will help make a difference for at least 30 families and have a positive and direct impact on our community."
Belmont Housing will serve as developer and Creative Structure Services is general contractor for the project. Construction at the site began recently and will continue through the spring of 2016.
"Bellamy Commons is designed to provide functional, safe and durable housing in a manner that adds value to the Jefferson - (East) Ferry area, the Masten District and the City of Buffalo as a whole" said Michael Riegel, Belmont Housing vice president.
Since 1977, Belmont Housing Resources has been a leader in developing and managing affordable housing as well as providing residents with home ownership education and assistance.
Bellamy Commons is named in honor of Herbert Bellamy Sr., founder of 1490 Enterprises Inc., a City of Buffalo councilman and a veteran of the United States Marine Corps. His son, Herbert Bellamy Jr., is CEO of Buffalo Black Achievers Inc.
The grant by the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York is provided as an addition to its 2014 Affordable Housing Program grant round. The Federal Home Loan Bank system's affordable housing program, created by Congress in 1989, provides member community lenders with direct subsidies, which are passed on to qualified households through a sponsoring local nonprofit organization. AHP financing is combined with other funding sources to create housing for moderate and low-income families.
Program awardees receive this funding through semiannual competitive rounds. Each competing project must be sponsored by a financial organization that is a member of the Federal Home Loan Bank in partnership with a community-based sponsoring organization.