La Plaza de Virginia will offer 46 affordable & supportive homes for seniors with community senior service center and café
Part of $20 billion, 5-year affordable housing plan
Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced the start of construction on a $17 million affordable housing development that will offer 46 affordable homes for seniors in Buffalo. Known as La Plaza de Virginia, the development will also include a community senior service center and café. The developer is Hispanos Unidos de Buffalo, a nonprofit organization that provides integrated social services to underserved communities in the Buffalo area. La Plaza de Virginia is part of Cuomo's $20 billion, five-year affordable housing plan.
"New York has made unprecedented investments in affordable and supportive housing developments, creating vibrant communities for seniors on fixed incomes to lead fulfilling lives in every corner of the state," Cuomo said. "La Plaza de Virginia will provide supportive housing and health care services to help some of our most vulnerable Buffalo residents live independently and further our commitment to ensure all New Yorkers have access to safe, affordable housing."
"Every New Yorker deserves the warmth and security of a roof over their heads and services they need, especially as we fight this pandemic," Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said. "This project will create 46 affordable homes, and provide supportive services, including a community senior center and a café, for underserved seniors in Buffalo. Through Gov. Cuomo's unprecedented five-year affordable housing plan, we are committed to combating homelessness and enhancing quality of life for all New Yorkers."
Located at 254 Virginia St., La Plaza de Virginia will include 46 one-bedroom apartments for senior households with incomes at or below 60% of the area median income. Fourteen apartments will be set aside for formerly homeless seniors who will receive supportive services to assist them in transitioning into congregate housing and achieving housing stability. The supportive services are funded through the governor's Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative and administered by the New York State Department of Health.
Among the supportive services to be offered to tenants, HUB will provide comprehensive care management, substance use and mental health support, counseling, social day care, transportation, medication self-management, health care coordination, advocacy, recreation, educational and training workshops, as well as referrals and linkage to community-based services.
The building will feature a 4,000 square-foot communal courtyard, lounge, and laundry rooms on each floor, and a 5,500 square-foot community senior service center. In addition, the project will allocate community facility space to provide primary health care services to tenants and local community residents, including offices for medical professionals and exam rooms with telehealth capabilities. A small café on the first floor of the project will take up the balance of the commercial space to provide access to healthy food for residents and the public at large.
Financing for La Plaza de Virginia includes federal and state low-income housing tax credits that will generate $10.6 million in equity and $3.1 million in subsidy from HCR. Empire State Development is providing $1.9 million through the Better Buffalo Fund, part of Cuomo's Buffalo Billion initiative. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority also provided funding. The City of Buffalo's Urban Renewal Agency is providing $950,000.
Stieglitz Snyder Architecture led the design of the three-story project, to be constructed by Kulback's Construction, both of which are based in Buffalo. Property management services will be provided by Rochester's Cornerstone Group, and the social and supportive services will be coordinated through Hispanos Unidos de Buffalo.
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. Since 2011, New York State Homes and Community Renewal has invested $273 million in the City of Buffalo, which has created or preserved nearly 3,000 affordable homes.
A press release said Cuomo's 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.
HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Under Gov. Cuomo's direction, HCR is furthering economic revitalization efforts in Buffalo through the construction of affordable mixed-use housing developments that create vibrant communities with easy access to services. La Plaza de Virginia continues this approach with 46 affordable and supportive homes paired with a senior service center and café on the ground floor for the benefit of the entire community. We are grateful to our state agency partners and HUB for moving this development forward."
ESD Acting Commissioner and President and CEO-Designate Eric Gertler said, "The Better Buffalo Fund encourages mixed-use development to create vibrant commercial districts and residential neighborhoods in areas with access to transit. La Plaza de Virginia is a great example, one that will transform a once-vacant lot into affordable homes and amenities for Buffalo's seniors."
NYSERDA Acting President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, "Incorporating sustainable and climate resilient features into newly constructed homes for our most vulnerable citizens is pivotal to creating the next generation of healthy, low-carbon buildings as we realize Gov. Cuomo's goals for an equitable and just transition to a carbon neutral economy. We applaud Hispanos Unidos de Buffalo for their commitment to the environment and their community and congratulate them on beginning construction at La Plaza de Virginia."
State Sen. Tim Kennedy said, "As our nation continues to face an affordable housing crisis, our state and extraordinary partners like Hispanos Unidos de Buffalo remain committed to investing in new housing opportunities that will bring supportive, sustainable resources directly into the communities that need them. With assistance from New York State and the City of Buffalo, this project is truly a team effort, and I'm thrilled to see the incredible vision of HUB move one step closer to becoming a reality."
State Sen. Sean Ryan said, "With strong financial support from New York state, La Plaza de Virginia will be a transformational development for Buffalo's West Side. By combining affordable housing for seniors with supportive services, a community center, and health care services, we will be improving the overall wellbeing of West Side residents who often lack access to these critical services. I look forward to the opening of this new development, and I thank Hispanos Unidos de Buffalo and all the workers who will make this building a reality."
Assembly member Jonathan Rivera said, "This is exactly the kind of project that New York state should be supporting, not just addressing a need, not just creating affordable housing, not just aiding our aging population, not just providing a space for people to safely congregate, but accomplishing all of these things and more. I want to thank everyone involved in making this substantial investment in this often underserved community."
HUB Executive Director Eugenio Russi said, "Hispanos Unidos de Buffalo is proud to continue expanding our footprint in the community through this all-encompassing senior housing development, which will serve as a model for sustainability, affordability and social service/health care integration. We deeply value the support of Mayor (Byron) Brown, the State Senate, our umbrella organization Acacia Network, and our partners, including Empire State Development, NYSERDA, the National Equity Fund and Citizens Bank, in order to make this project possible."
Hispanos Unidos de Buffalo is a nonprofit organization providing integrated care and social services to underserved communities – predominantly Hispanic/Latino and African American – in the upstate region. Founded in 1989, HUB's mission has expanded to enable residents in urban settings to become self-sufficient citizens who contribute to the quality of life in their communities. HUB and its affiliate organizations operate comprehensive health, housing and social services programs, including: affordable and supportive housing; rapid rehousing for survivors of domestic violence and COVID-19 related homelessness; primary and subspecialty medical care, mental health and substance use treatment; HIV services; Health Home services; nutritional, educational and vocational services, as well as preventive services to keep children out of foster care and domestic violence survivor services.