Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement (HCCI), and partners to celebrate the grand opening of the Rev. Dr. Charles A. Curtis Plaza located at 260 West 153rd Street in Harlem, New York.Those partners were New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), and the Community Preservation Corporation (CPC) joined L+M Development Partners, this new seven-story development is named in honor of the current Chairman of HCCI and includes 50 units of affordable housing, an onsite daycare center, and new community service office for HCCI. Also in attendance were Assistant Commissioner of New York State Housing and Community Renewal, Gregory O. Watson; New York City Council Member Inez E. Dickens and Geoffrey Eaton, Chief of Staff for US Congressman Charles B. Rangel.
US Congressmen Charles B. Rangel said: “I am proud to join in the celebration of honoring two beloved friends and great men whose legacy will endure. Reverend Dr. Charles A. Curtis is an international champion for social justice and equality who never stops fighting for affordable housing and the further displacement of long term Harlem residents. The late Canon Frederick Boyd Williams dedicated his spiritual leadership to uplifting the lives of children and their families. He was an outspoken spiritual leader against South Africa Apartheid and advocated resources for those suffering from the scourge of HIV/AIDS. I am confident that The Plaza and Center will inspire many generations of leaders to fight for the voiceless.”
New York State Assemblyman Keith L.T. Wright said: “Now more than ever, our community needs access to affordable housing. The partnerships that made the Rev. Dr. Charles A. Curtis Plaza a reality are exactly the type of collaborative effort needed to guide our City out of the affordable housing crisis. These new affordable units, office space and childcare center will improve the quality of life for residents. I commend HCCI and their partners for working to curb displacement and preserve the fabric of our neighborhood.”
The Rev. Dr. Charles A. Curtis Plaza includes seven studio apartments, 30 one-bedroom apartments, and 13 two-bedroom apartments. An additional two-bedroom apartment serves as an onsite superintendent’s unit. In total the building yields 52,215 square feet of residential space, a 4,331-foot community service headquarters for HCCI, a 7,915 square feet for onsite parking, and a 10,000 square foot childcare center.
Named the Canon Frederick Boyd Williams Center for Child Enrichment, after HCCI’s first Chairman, the center will provide up to 150 daycare slots and is managed by Tender Tots, which is hiring and accepting enrollment for the child care center. Job and enrollment information can be found online at hcci.org. The Canon Frederick Boyd Williams’ Center for Child Enrichment opens in September.
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HPD Commissioner Vicki Been said: “Today we celebrate the opening of 50 new affordable homes in one of this City’s most vibrant communities. This project not only serves some of the neediest New Yorkers, it also puts vacant land into productive use. I want to thank Harlem Congregations for Community Improvement and L+M Development Partners for their vision and dedication to creating housing opportunities for extremely low- and very low-income households. I also want to thank our partners at HCR, CPC and all of our local elected officials that work with us regularly to further our shared goals of making New York City a more affordable city.”
HCCI President & CEO Malcolm A. Punter stated: “While HCCI has developed more than 3000 units of affordable housing, these 50 units are special to us. This development is the realization of a vision our founders had to relocate our offices, which were scattered along on Frederick Douglass Blvd, into one location, making room for commercial activity on the boulevard. Now, all of the new services: 50-units of affordable housing, a 150-slot childcare center, and our community service headquarters are located on 153rd Street on the HCCI Community Service Corridor, and we look forward to 30 more years’ service in this community.”
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New York City Council Member Inez E. Dickens, “For 30 years, Harlem Congregation for Community Improvement has worked tirelessly to address the needs of residents dealing with incredibly difficult circumstances. Such was the case for 153rd Street. By making this area once forgotten the cornerstone for reclaiming the neighbor for families who call Harlem Home, HCCI has garnered the trust and confidence that a little bit of faith can result in miracles.“
Apartments in this development are allocated to very low-income families. Of the total 50 units, 42 are designated to households earning a maximum of 50 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI), or an annual income of not more than $29,560 for an individual and $41,950 for a family of four. The remaining eight units are reserved for households earning up to 30 percent AMI, or an annual income of not more than $17,619 for an individual and $22,653 for a family of four. Income levels are calculated annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Income levels for this development are set by HUD’s 2016 calculations. Eight units were reserved for homeless people living with HIV/AIDS. The gross rents (rent plus utilities) will range from $641 to $887 a month.
The total development cost for the Rev. Dr. Charles A. Curtis Plaza was approximately $21.5 million. HCR provided $14 million through 9% Low Income Housing Tax Credits (LIHTC) toward permanent financing which leveraged a $3.5 million CPC loan through the New York City Employee Retirement System (NYCERS). HPD provided $1.09 million in City capital funding. Wells Fargo served as the lender. This development was constructed by L+M Builders and Griffon Associates and designed by Curtis & Ginsberg Architects.
Ron Moelis, CEO and Founding Partner of L+M Development Partners said, “We areproud to provide new, high-quality affordable apartments here in West Harlem. This project will serve as a new headquarters for HCCI, allowing the organization to continue its work to provide safe, stable housing and enhance access to essential services in Harlem. I would like to thank HCCI, the private lenders and our partners in government for helping to make this project a reality.”
CPC President & CEO Rafael E. Cestero said, “The Rev. Dr. Charles A. Curtis Plaza brings so much to the community. The deeply affordable housing will provide homes for dozens of hardworking New York families and the daycare center offers a critical resource that will benefit the entire neighborhood. It’s also heartening to know that HCCI has a new place to call home where they can continue to build on their three decades of good works in community. My thanks to HCCI and L+M, NYCRS, HPD, HCR, and Wells Fargo as well as our local elected officials for their partnership in helping to make New York a more affordable city.”
The new Rev. Dr. Charles A. Curtis Plaza affordable housing development is part of Governor Cuomo’s unprecedented commitment to affordable housing and community renewal, which includes $20 billion in the 2016-17 state budget for comprehensive statewide housing and homelessness action plans. Over the next five years, the $10 billion housing initiative will create and preserve 100,000 affordable housing units across the State, and the $10 billion homelessness action plan will create 6,000 new supportive housing beds, 1,000 emergency beds, and a variety of expanded homelessness services.
The construction of this new development was financed under Mayor Bill de Blasio’s Housing New York: A Five-Borough, 10-Year Housing Plan, to create and preserve 200,000 units of affordable housing. The most comprehensive affordable housing plan in the City’s history and largest municipal housing plan in the nation, its goal is to help address New York City’s affordability crisis by reaching more than half a million New Yorkers ranging from those with very low incomes to those in the middle class, all of whom face ever-rising rents.
As required by the City of New York, apartments in this development were allocated through an Open Lottery System to ensure fair and equitable distribution of housing to income-eligible applicants. The affordable housing lottery for this development is now closed. Selected eligible applicants are in the process of moving into this new building. Available housing lotteries are currently available on the City’s NYC Housing Connect website. Since its 2013 launch, NYC Housing Connect has simplified the city’s housing lottery process. The website allows New Yorkers to fill out a single online profile, which can be used to apply to multiple new housing lotteries. That profile can be saved and edited, eliminating the need to fill out individual paper applications for upcoming lotteries. In early 2016, the City announced the NYC Housing Connect website now serves Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Haitian Creole, Korean, Russian, and Spanish speakers. Each existing housing lottery advertisement and all upcoming lotteries are also available in each of the above listed languages. Translations were funded by Citi Community Development. Visit the NYC Housing Connect website here: NYC Housing Connect. Learn more about finding housing in New York City on HPD’s website here: How to Find Housing
Photo credit: 1) Rev. Dr. Charles A. Curtis at the ribbon cutting for the Rev. Dr. Charles A, Curtis Plaza. 2) HCCI Corporate Secretary, Imam Talib Abdur Rashid delivers the invocation. 3) Harlem residents, HCCI staff, development partners and clergy pray, blessing the new building. 4) HCCI Board Members cut the ribbon to celebrate the grand opening of the Rev. Charles A. Curtis Plaza. Picture from left to right: Pictured from left to right, front: Rev. Wendy J. Kelly-Carter, Imam Talib Abdur Rashid (Corporate Secretary HCCI) George H. Weldon Jr. (Second Vice Chair), Joan O. Dawson, PhD (First Vice Chair), Virginia Montague, Rev. Nigel Pearce. Rev. Dr. Charles A. Curtis (Chairman), Rev. John L. Scott, EdD; and Malcolm A. Punter (President & CEO). 5) Dickens, Curtis & Geoff – City Council Member Inez E. Dickens, HCCI Chairman Rev. Charles A. Curtis and Geoffrey Eaton, Chief of Staff for U.S. Congressman Charles Rangel, strike a pose. Photos by MacDonald Layne