Common Ground and partners celebrate 161 new units of affordable housing at the Hegeman

Today, Common Ground was joined by Senator John Sampson, HPD Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua, DHS Commissioner Seth Diamond, OTDA Executive Deputy Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin, Federal Home Loan Bank of New York President/CEO Alfred Dellibovi, and representatives from Homes and Community Renewal, the Office of Borough President Marty Markowitz, and other partners at the ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Hegeman, a new 161-unit affordable housing development with supportive services for formerly homeless and low-income adults in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn.

The $43 million LEED certified building, designed by Cook + Fox Architects, is Common Ground’s second in Brownsville and will expand the extensive portfolio of supportive and affordable housing that Common Ground provides in the New York metropolitan area as part of its mission to end homelessness and revitalize communities.

“The Hegeman illustrates that with world-class, sustainable design we can build supportive housing that helps end homelessness and acts as a terrific addition to any neighborhood,” said Brenda Rosen, Executive Director of Common Ground.  “We are delighted to invest further in Brooklyn and Brownsville, creating local jobs and, thanks to a grant from Capital One Bank, providing services not just to our tenants but to the community as well.”

The Hegeman was developed as part of Mayor Michael R. Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan (NHMP). The NHMP is a multi-billion dollar initiative to finance 165,000 units of affordable housing for half a million New Yorkers by the close of Fiscal Year 2014. For every dollar invested by the City, the Plan has leveraged $3.41 in private funding for a total commitment of more than $19.4 billion to fund the creation or preservation of over 140,920 units of affordable housing across the five boroughs, with more than 43,723 units financed in Brooklyn.

“Creating supportive housing is an important part of the New Housing Marketplace Plan,” said HPD Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua. “Common Ground and the Center for Urban Community Services are two organizations that recognize the importance of supporting a neighborhood’s vulnerable residents so that we may strengthen our communities as a whole. I want to thank all of our partners for their commitment to the residents of New York City and for ensuring that all citizens have the opportunity to live with dignity.”

One hundred units at the Hegeman are reserved for formerly homeless adults, including residents with HIV/AIDS and other special needs. Sixty units are reserved for low-income single adults at or below 60 percent of the area median income ($33,300 for a single person) based on 2010 calculations. Area Median Income (AMI) calculations are distributed by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).

“As someone who knows Brownsville well, I can attest that The Hegeman is a shining example of how communities are best served when government, non-profits and private resources come together to address the concerns of our neediest fellow citizens,” said New York State Homes Commissioner/CEO Darryl C. Towns. “Under Governor Cuomo’s leadership, New York has a renewed focus on supportive housing developments like The Hegeman that are cost efficient, medically beneficial, and community oriented alternatives to repeated hospitalizations.”

Common Ground’s service partner, Center for Urban Community Services (CUCS), will provide on-site social services through a team of social workers and other professionals that are available to all tenants. On-site services will include crisis prevention, supportive counseling, appointment escort services and other forms of assistance.

“The services and support offered by the Hegeman allows homeless individuals who face challenges to transition more easily back to the community in a home of their own,” said Homeless Services Commissioner Seth Diamond.  “The inclusion of employment services on site is a vital component, instilling long-term self-sufficiency and independence among residents.”

“This beautiful and environmentally-friendly building will not only provide a home to 100 formerly homeless individuals, but ensure they are getting the supportive services they need to achieve independence and self-reliance,” said OTDA Executive Deputy Commissioner Elizabeth Berlin. “This project fits right in with our mission at OTDA: to provide supports and services to New York’s most vulnerable residents and help them on a path to self-sufficiency and economic security.”

“CUCS has partnered with Common Ground for more than 20 years,” said CUCS Executive Director Tony Hannigan, “and we look forward to providing social services here at the Hegeman that help rebuild the lives of homeless New Yorkers.”

The Hegeman will also include several community benefits for residents of the surrounding Brownsville neighborhood. Approximately half of the building’s staff are residents of the neighborhood, and in 2013 the building will open an adjacent garden that will be available to the wider Brownsville community.  Common Ground was also awarded a multi-year grant from Capital One Bank to fund a full-time tenant service staff member focused on providing financial literacy and employment services to tenants as well as residents of Brownsville not living in The Hegeman.

“We are thrilled to develop a new relationship with Common Ground and help finance a development that will provide Brownsville residents with affordable places to call home,” said Colleen Taylor, Brooklyn Market President, Capital One Bank.  “As a local bank, we believe investing in affordable housing is about more than financing new construction. It’s about investing in economic opportunities for individuals, families and communities. As such, we’re proud to provide over $23.1 million in financing and additional funding to enhance resident amenities at The Hegeman.”

The 78,000 square-foot Hegeman was designed by award-winning Cook + Fox Architects, best known for its design of the Bank of America Tower at One Bryant Park which was the first commercial high-rise to achieve a LEED Platinum rating. Environmentally sustainable features of The Hegeman include a green roof, low environmental impact construction that utilized recycled materials, a state-of-the-art high efficiency building management system to control temperature, light and motion sensors, low-VOC paints and materials and high-efficiency boilers. The building also boasts a large courtyard garden, computer lab, fitness room, on-site laundry and 24-hour security for its tenants.

The total development cost for the Hegeman was approximately $43.6 million. The New York State Housing Finance Agency (HFA), one of the housing agencies within New York State Homes & Community Renewal (HCR), provided $22,800,000 in tax exempt bond financing enhanced by a JP Morgan Chase letter of credit.  HFA also provided permanent financing of $3,910,000 and an annual allocation of $1.6 million in low income housing tax credits. HPD provided permanent mortgage financing of $17,600,000. The NYS Homeless Housing and Assistance Corporation also provided permanent mortgage financing of $5,580,000. Capital One Bank and Hudson Housing Capital provided $13,538,000 in equity financing generated by low income tax credits allocated by NYS HFA. Other capital sources include $1,650,000 from the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York acting through Astoria Federal Savings Bank; $250,000 from the Brooklyn Borough President; and $750,000 from the Kresge Foundation.  Deutsche Bank and Mizuho Corporate Bank provided acquisition and predevelopment financing for the project.

Download or print the press release here.

Related press coverage:
News 12 Brooklyn: news clip from September 19, 2012
NY Daily News: “Inside the best of New York City’s affordable housing”

Visit us on Facebook to view event photos and more.