Highland School Apartments Provides Homes and Support Services for 38 Individuals and Families
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the grand opening of a $10.5 million affordable housing development in the City of Tonawanda. The development, known as Highland School Apartments, is the adaptive reuse and substantial rehabilitation of a three-story century-old former school building that provides 38 homes for low-income individuals and families. People, Inc. will provide support services.
"The opening of this new development will help expand opportunity and provide much-needed services for some of the most vulnerable among us," Governor Cuomo said. "Every New Yorker deserves a safe, decent affordable place to call home and this investment puts us closer this this goal while also strengthening this community and Western New York as a whole."
Located at 105 Highland Avenue, Highland School Apartments has a total of 38 affordable apartments. Ten units are designated for developmentally disabled adults, and of those units, four will be for individuals who are homeless or at risk of homelessness. An additional five units are designated for homeless adults with a traumatic brain injury. Rents will range from $533 to $866 a month, and will be affordable to households with incomes at or below 70 percent of the area median income.
"This is a truly collaborative effort that gives a vacant school a new lease on life and provides a home for those who otherwise might struggle to afford one," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, who attended today's ceremony. "Under Governor Cuomo, New York State is committed to combating homelessness and making affordable housing a reality for those in need, and I'm proud that we are a partner in making the future brighter for those who now call the Highland School their home."
Supportive services for the special needs tenants will be provided by People, Inc., and will include service coordination, independent living skills training, day/residential habilitation, employment training, medical services, transportation to appointments, programs and employment, and recreational facilities. Highland School was originally built in the 1920s and closed in 2009. People Inc. acquired the property at an auction two years later.
Funding for Highland School Apartments included $$432,672 in Low Income Housing Tax Credits from New York State Homes and Community Renewal that will generate 4.2 million in equity. HCR also provided $2.4 million in NYS HOME funds and $39,207 in State Low Income Housing Tax Credits that will generate $218,000 in equity.
In addition, $1.9 million was provided from the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance's Homeless Housing and Assistance Program; $1.4 million in capital funding, in the form of debt service, and ongoing housing subsidies from the New York State Office of People With Developmental Disabilities; $76,000 from the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, as well as funding from the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York and People, Inc.
Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Highland School Apartments is the result of the combined efforts of many state and local partners. This development has transformed a vacant school property into a residential community that will provide 38 affordable and supportive homes and also continue the Governor's efforts to revitalize the City of Tonawanda."
Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Samuel D. Roberts said, "The Governor continues to lead the way forward in ensuring our most vulnerable New Yorkers have a safe, affordable place to live. With the creation of these supportive housing units, not only are individuals and families provided with stable housing, but given access to the support services they need to succeed."
Office for People With Developmental Disabilities Acting Commissioner Kerry A. Delaney said, "Secure, affordable, supportive housing is a firm stepping stone as we work to help people achieve fulfilling lives in their communities. We are pleased to have the opportunity to partner with our sister agencies in New York to expand and improve supportive housing throughout the state. Housing communities like this one build richer lives, more cohesive and diverse communities, and ultimately, an even better and stronger New York."
Senator Chris Jacobs said, "Today's opening of the Highland School Apartments is welcome news given the tremendous need for affordable housing across our region. The collaboration between the state, the City of Tonawanda and People Inc. is a great example of how public-private partnerships can drive positive changes in our community."
Erie County Executive Mark Poloncarz said, "Affordable housing is critical to vibrant, diverse communities and helps to build neighborhoods that are not only more inclusive but that also reuse old buildings as part of new development. The Highland School Apartments bring a former school building back to life and will bring new opportunities to low-income families and individuals with developmental disabilities as they grow into their new community. This is an inclusive, exciting reuse of our existing infrastructure and I thank Governor Cuomo, People, Inc. and all the parties involved in making it happen."
City of Tonawanda Mayor Rick Davis said, "Over the years we have had closed schools that have become eyesores in our community. This is why I pushed hard for this project. Many thanks to Governor Cuomo and People Inc. for investing into our community and for giving low to moderate income residents a safe place to live."
Rhonda Frederick, president and CEO, People Inc. said, "The innovative program model is one element of our agency's strategic development as we continue to provide quality housing to a diverse community. This integrated living community project offers a unique opportunity to revitalize a vacant building, improve neighborhood appeal and provide much needed housing. Not only can we help people in our community live affordably without the burden of maintaining a home, but we can do so in a way that benefits the surrounding community," added Frederick. "The State of New York, Governor Cuomo, Lieutenant Governor Hochul and the State Legislature have made affordable housing a key component of the State's revitalization and we are glad to be a part of it. We are grateful for their support, along with the support of City of Tonawanda and all the nearby neighbors and businesses."