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Governor Cuomo Announces Mitchell-Lama Renovation to Break Ground in Amsterdam

$1 Billion House NY Initiative Reaches Major Milestone as Woodrow Wilson Townhomes Begins Major Improvements

As Part of House NY, Upgrades to Mitchell-Lamas around the State Will Extend Affordability of 1,600 Units for another 40 Years

On Monday, Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced the groundbreaking of the Woodrow Wilson Townhomes rehabilitation project, which will make state-of-the art modern upgrades and repairs to a 100-unit Mitchell-Lama development in the City of Amsterdam and extend affordability for another 40 years. The project is part of House NY, the Governor’s plan to create and preserve more than 14,300 affordable homes across the State. Today’s announcement marks a major House NY milestone as Woodrow Wilson breaks ground while at the same time refinancing has closed on five other Mitchell-Lamas, making $293 million available now to preserve more than 1,600 Mitchell Lama units across the state.

“Every New Yorker deserves a safe and decent place to live, and today we’re taking another major step toward reaching that goal,” Governor Cuomo said. “Our administration committed $1 billion through the House NY program to build and preserve affordable housing, and this investment is transforming critical but aging Mitchell-Lama developments into safer and better homes for New Yorkers in every corner of the state. Today’s renovations at the Woodrow Wilson Townhomes – along with many others to come – are helping to meet the needs of New York’s families both today and for the future.”

Governor Cuomo has made preserving affordable housing a priority since taking office. As part of House New York, the state’s largest investment in affordable housing in at least 15 years, Empire State Development’s Mitchell-Lama housing portfolio was transferred in 2013 to Homes and Community Renewal (HCR). In all, House New York is slated to create and preserve more than 14,300 affordable housing units over five years in both urban and rural areas across the State, including 8,600 existing Mitchell-Lama units in 35 developments that were transferred to HCR from Empire State Development.

Darryl C. Towns, Commissioner/CEO of HCR said, “Funding these needed repairs and improvements at Woodrow Wilson Townhomes, and at this first group of housing developments, is an important step toward providing overdue maintenance at more Mitchell-Lama developments. I commend Governor Cuomo for his unwavering commitment to high quality affordable housing for all New Yorkers, and we were proud to work with our partners in the Mohawk Valley to reach today’s milestone. Under the Governor’s leadership, HCR is taking on the challenge of rehabilitating and preserving affordability at Mitchell-Lama developments in every corner of the state. I am proud to celebrate the groundbreaking of Woodrow Wilson today as it paves the way for making even more units better places to live in the months and years ahead.”

The renovation of the 41 year-old Woodrow Wilson Townhomes will stand as a model of excellence in the greening of existing Mitchell-Lama housing. The redevelopment is designed to reduce energy use by at least 20 percent. Five of the existing apartments will be redesigned for handicap accessibility. Kitchens and bathrooms will be replaced to provide tenants with efficient modern amenities. Existing heating distribution systems will be replaced with new energy efficient gas fired heating and central cooling systems, and windows will be replaced with high energy efficient units. The development will include a community room, laundry, and Wi-Fi.

The agencies used a diverse mix of resources to refinance Woodrow Wilson Townhomes. In addition to $5 million in state Mitchell-Lama funding through the Housing Finance Agency within HCR, the Housing Trust Fund Corporation approved another $2 million. Upon completion, these state investments will leverage almost $12 million in a combination of private financing and equity from Federal Low Income Housing Tax Credits, which are also administered by HCR.

The renovation of Woodrow Wilson Townhomes is a partnership with HCR, Omni Development, The Community Preservation Corporation, and First Niagara Bank. The project qualified for an Early Award from HCR because it was a high-quality, shovel-ready project that advanced the State’s housing goal of Mitchell-Lama preservation.

In addition to Woodrow Wilson Townhomes, the Mitchell-Lama developments where refinancings have closed are:

  • Oak Creek Town Homes in the City of Auburn (Cayuga County)
  • Cornerstone-Unity Park Townhomes in Niagara Falls (Niagara County)
  • The three phases of Twin Parks Houses in New York City (Bronx County)

Duncan Barrett, Chief Operating Officer Omni Housing Development LLC. said, “Omni Housing Development LLC is proud to partner with NYS HCR and the City of Amsterdam to revitalize this important community based housing for families in Amsterdam.”

Amsterdam Mayor Ann Thane said, “The City of Amsterdam is very pleased to see this project kick off. The property had gone through significant decline, but now because of the commitment of Omni Development, will see new vitality and purpose. We’re grateful and wish all of those involved touched by this project a healthy, prosperous future.”

Phyllis Hathaway, First Vice President First Niagara Bank said, “First Niagara is very pleased to provide the financing for this significant project that will assist in enhancing the quality of housing for many residents of Amsterdam. We are committed to serving our communities and are excited to be involved in this important cooperative effort and development initiative.”

Senator Cecilia Tkaczyk said, "The State's partnership with Omni Housing Development will preserve and greatly improve affordable housing options for the residents of Amsterdam. The rehabilitation of Woodrow Wilson Homes will make the complex safer for residents and will greatly increase energy efficiency and lower the costs of operation."

Assemblyman Angelo Santabarbara said, “Protecting and preserving affordable housing has been one of my highest priorities in the New York State Assembly. This is a perfect example of how the state can play a role in helping expand affordable housing here in Amsterdam."

Richard Conley, Senior Vice President and Originations Director, The Community Preservation Corporation, Inc. said, “The development will serve as a model for how strong public and private partnerships can directly benefit local residents and stabilize New York’s neighborhoods. We thank the New York State Common Retirement Fund and First Niagara Bank who will be facilitating our $3.15 million permanent loan, and look forward to working with Omni and the City of Amsterdam to preserve one of this community’s long-standing housing developments.”

New York State’s Mitchell-Lama Housing Program was first proposed by State Senator MacNeil Mitchell and Assemblyman Alfred Lama and was signed into law in 1955 by Governor William Averell Harriman. Part of the state’s Private Housing Finance Law, the program provided for the creation of affordable housing, both rental and co-operatively owned, for middle-income residents. Developers of these privately-owned properties received tax abatements and low-interest mortgages, subsidized by the federal, state, or New York City government. In total, 269 housing developments with 105,000 units were developed with State aid under the Mitchell-Lama Program.

HCR consists of all the State's major housing and community renewal agencies, including the Affordable Housing Corporation, the Division of Housing and Community Renewal, the Housing Finance Agency, State of New York Mortgage Agency, Housing Trust Fund Corporation and others.

HCR is in the second year of Governor Cuomo’s $1 billion House New York program, which creates thousands of new units over five years, and is the largest investment in affordable housing in at least 15 years. House New York will also preserve thousands of Mitchell-Lama units, extending affordability for 40 years. The House New York initiative builds on the successes of unprecedented efforts to protect more than two million rent-regulated tenants, with the greatest strengthening of the state’s rent laws in 30 years, along with the creation of the Tenant Protection Unit which proactively audits and investigates landlord wrongdoing.