59-apartment Mount Aaron Village development includes on-site supportive housing services
Gov. Andrew Cuomo on Tuesday announced the start of construction on Mount Aaron Village, a new affordable housing development on Genesee Street in Buffalo. The complex will have 59 units, including 18 apartments that will be dedicated specifically for people who need supportive services to live independently.
"We have made an unprecedented commitment to address housing and homelessness across our state, including creating thousands of new affordable and supportive housing units for New Yorkers," Cuomo said. "As we progress through the phased reopening of New York's economy, we must continue to look out for the most vulnerable members of our communities and new developments like the Mount Aaron Village will provide critical housing opportunities to families and seniors on Buffalo's east side."
Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul was on hand for the groundbreaking. She said, "We are committed to continuing to invest in our communities to help ensure growth and improve quality of life for all New Yorkers, and that includes creating and preserving affordable housing opportunities. Today's groundbreaking at Mount Aaron Village is another sign of this commitment and that New York's better days lie ahead. As we prepare for a post-pandemic world, we will build back better, smarter, and more inclusive than before."
The Mount Aaron Village development is part of Cuomo's $20 billion, five-year affordable housing plan. A press release said, “This commitment to providing all New Yorkers with access to safe, affordable housing makes housing more accessible and combats homelessness by building and preserving more than 100,000 units of affordable housing and 6,000 units of supportive housing.
“Designed to provide good quality, affordable homes to low-income households and those in need of supportive services, the development is part of the governor's overall strategy to revitalize communities and grow the economy.”
The building will be constructed to meet the requirements of the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority's low-rise new construction program and enterprise green communities. Energy-efficient features include Energy Star-labeled appliances, heating and air conditioning systems and lighting.
When complete, Mount Aaron Village will have 59 apartments for families and seniors distributed among four buildings, the largest of which has 43 apartments and ground-floor commercial space for BestSelf Behavioral Health, the on-site supportive services provider. The remaining 16 apartments are in three townhouse-style buildings. There are 16 one-bedroom, 27 two-bedroom, and 16 three-bedroom units.
There will be 18 apartments for homeless individuals who will receive services and supports through Cuomo's Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative administered by the state Office of Addition Services and Supports.
Rents are set to be affordable to individuals and households earning at or below 30% of the area median income (AMI) for 18 apartments, at or below 50% of AMI for 39 apartments, and two are priced to be affordable to households making at or below 60% of AMI.
The development is rising on 2.15 acres of vacant land that the Mount Aaron Village Housing Development Fund Corp. acquired from the Buffalo Economic Renaissance Corp. The developers are Community Hope Builders, CDC and CB-Emmanuel Realty.
HCR's investment in Mount Aaron Village includes $12.6 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credit equity and nearly $6 million in subsidy. The City of Buffalo is providing $800,000 in Federal HOME funds and NYSERDA will provide $146,000.
Since 2011, New York State Homes and Community Renewal has invested more than $361 million in 74 developments to create or preserve more than 5,400 affordable homes and apartments in Western New York, including more than $254 million in the City of Buffalo to create or preserve 3,276 homes to house over 7,200 people. The state's investment has leveraged nearly $594 million in other funds for these developments.
HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Creating stable, secure homes that allow people to live independently is central to HCR's mission. We are gratified that the work we've done through Gov. Cuomo's housing plan is building on the energy brought by community activism and reinforced by the commitment of the city's business and nonprofit communities. Together, we are bringing life back to these streets through the creation of permanently affordable housing on Buffalo's east side that families need and deserve."
OASAS Commissioner Arlene Gonzalez-Sanchez said, "OASAS is proud to work with its sister agencies on the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative. It brings me great pleasure to know that this initiative is securing housing for our most vulnerable populations; through partnerships between providers and developers. Safe, secure housing for the people we serve is a much needed resource – especially during these current times."
New York State Sen. Tim Kennedy said, "Pastor Jones has been working tirelessly to better the lives of current and future residents of Buffalo's east side, through both his ministry at Mount Aaron Baptist Church and by leading the Community Hope Builders CDC Inc. toward economic revitalization of the east side's housing stock. Mount Aaron Village represents the next important milestone in the betterment of our community, and I was happy to advocate for funding for this project because I believe in Pastor Jones' vision and his commitment to provide secure, supportive and independent housing opportunities in the City of Buffalo."
Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, "Now more than ever we need affordable housing. This groundbreaking marks the fulfillment of our promise to make this a reality for many of our eastside residents who need quality housing. This $20.3 million project is a perfect example of what we can accomplish when community leaders, city officials and state lawmakers work together to make sure all residents have a chance at affordable quality housing. I'm Iooking forward to being here when we cut ribbon for the grand opening and residents are able to move in."
Mayor Byron Brown said, "Given the economic fallout residents are experiencing as a result of the COVID-19 emergency, projects like Mount Aaron's take on heightened importance. I worked closely with Pastor Jones and his development team to secure funds for this $20 million affordable housing project that continues the neighborhood momentum from the newly completed The Forge on Broadway, pioneered by the late Dr. Rhonda Ricks. Pastor Jones must be recognized as one of the few faith-based developers in Buffalo that has successfully secured funding for two affordable housing projects in the past 10 years."
Ben Upshaw, principal of CB-Emmanuel, said, "CB-Emmanuel Realty LLC is honored to be partnering with NYS Homes and Community Renewal, the City Buffalo and Community Hope Builders on this exciting project to bring much-needed new, affordable housing to east Buffalo. We are grateful and appreciative of the opportunity to bring positive change to this neighborhood. The development team is excited to begin construction and anticipates future phases of construction on surrounding sites."