Westminster Commons Pairs 84 Affordable and Supportive Homes for Older Adults with Community Health Services
Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the start of construction on a $22.8 million housing and healthcare development for older adults in the city of Buffalo. Westminster Commons will include a newly constructed building with 84 affordable and supportive apartments. The project, on the city's East Side, will also include the transformation of the historic Westminster Settlement House into a commercial healthcare center that includes adult day programming, medical clinic, pharmacy and physical rehabilitation services.
"Westminster Commons continues our commitment to bringing high-quality affordable housing opportunities to Buffalo's East Side," Governor Cuomo said. "These 84 new homes for seniors will provide easy access to healthcare and supportive services and help these residents live independently."
"The Westminster Commons affordable housing development continues our commitment to moving Buffalo's East Side forward with new housing investment - creating a renewed sense of hope for residents," said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. "Everyone deserves the dignity of a great home, and this is especially important for seniors who need access to healthcare and support services. With funding from New York State Homes and Community Renewal, we are creating more affordable and supportive housing opportunities and improving the quality of life in neighborhoods across New York."
Westminster Commons will have 84 apartments for adults age 55 and up in a single, four-story building. All apartments will be affordable to households earning at or below 60 percent of the Area Median Income. Forty apartments will be reserved for seniors with a history of mental illness. These residents will have access to on-site supportive services, such as case management, benefits advocacy, financial management, job skills training and assistance with medical care. The Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers, Inc. is the supportive service provider and the project's developer.
The Westminster Settlement House, originally constructed in 1893, will be repurposed into a community service facility with health-oriented services for both residents and the community. Services will include a certified senior adult day care program, medical clinic, pharmacy, rehabilitative services and office space. There will be an interior link between the two buildings to facilitate ease of access for residents.
Westminster Commons is part of the Governor's commitment to providing all New Yorkers with access to safe, affordable housing, which is reflected in the state's unprecedented $20 billion, five-year Housing Plan. The plan makes housing accessible and combats homelessness by building and preserving more than 100,000 units of affordable housing and 6,000 units of supportive housing. Since 2011, New York State Homes and Community Renewal has invested more than $112 million on Buffalo's East Side to build or preserve 1,200 affordable housing units that are creating homes for more than 2,700 people.
State financing includes federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits that will generate about $14 million in equity and an additional $3 million in subsidy from HCR. The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance provided $3.4 million through the Homeless Housing Assistance Program. Additional financing is provided by The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority and Federal and State Historic Tax Credit equity.
The New York State Office of Mental Health will provide project based rental subsidies and services funding for 26 units through the Governor's Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative. The city of Buffalo is providing $350,000 in HOME funds.
The State's investment in Westminster Commons supports the Governor's "Health Across All Policies" and "Age-Friendly State" initiatives by preserving affordable homes for seniors. The initiative is a collaborative approach that integrates health considerations into policymaking across all sectors to improve community health and wellness. More information is available here.
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "The nearly $23 million Westminster Commons will offer affordable and supportive apartments for older Western New Yorkers and transform an underutilized historic building into an asset the entire community can enjoy. Governor Cuomo's strategic investment in Buffalo's East Side is transforming the area with new commercial activity, access to health services, and affordable housing that allows seniors to live independently in the neighborhood they call home."
New York State Department of Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker said, "Westminster Commons will provide seniors in Buffalo with the support they need to remain healthy, active and engaged in their community. Residents will have access to onsite services, like health care and financial assistance, and day programming."
Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Mike Hein said, "Supportive housing is a critical and proven tool in helping to stabilize the lives of people experiencing homelessness. Westminster Commons will provide safe, affordable housing for older New Yorkers while providing them with access to the supportive services they need."
Dr. Ann Sullivan, Commissioner of the Office of Mental Health said, "The supportive housing units in the beautiful Westminster Commons will allow people living with mental illness to live and thrive in their own homes and community. Once again, Governor Cuomo's Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative is providing stable housing with services that will yield better health outcomes at lower costs, and allow more vulnerable New Yorkers to become valuable contributors to their communities."
Commissioner of the Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Erik Kulleseid said, "The Westminster Commons project is another great example of how Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits can breathe new life into neighborhoods like the Buffalo's East Side. Investing in historic structures helps boost local economies, create affordable housing, promote sustainability and preserve the heritage of our communities."
Congressman Brian Higgins said, "With federal low-income tax credits, historic tax credits and HOME funds combined this represents an almost $15 million federal investment in the Westminster Commons project alone in addition to the $27.5 million federal new markets and historic tax credit investments already made in the Northland corridor just a couple miles down the road. Together it strengthens our East Side neighborhoods and improves access to opportunity and services through a combination of workforce development, healthcare and affordable housing, carrying forward a century long Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers commitment to serve the community."
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, "This is a triumph for the city of Buffalo to finally begin the construction on this $22.8 million housing development for seniors. Thanks to the financial support from the state and the federal government 84 low-income seniors, some with a history of mental illness, will soon have access to quality affordable housing as well as healthcare, adult day care, and rehabilitative services. This project is another shining example of the City of Good Neighbors looking out for its' elderly and those who need supportive services for a healthy and fulfilling life. Congratulations to Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers on starting a project that's been a long time in the making."
Erie County Executive Marc Poloncarz said, "At Westminster Commons, many partners have worked together to create new living spaces that are affordable, have supporting services, and improve the quality of life for seniors in Buffalo. This $22.8 million investment transforms the Westminster Settlement house into housing for seniors and adds access to a multitude of supportive services, helping these seniors maintain independence and also be a part of their community. This project is smart for seniors, adds to Buffalo's resurgence, and is an example of development that is good for all."
City of Buffalo Mayor Byron Brown said, "Since 2006, my Administration has worked to create more than 2,100 units of affordable housing for Buffalo residents of all ages. But in a City where 27 percent of our population is age 55 and over - a demographic that is continuing to rise -- it is imperative that we continue to address the current and future needs of our older residents. Westminster Commons will be much more than a senior housing facility. This holistic project will create a senior community with on-site services which are so critical to the health and well-being of our aging residents."
Ricardo Herrera, Executive Director, Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers, Inc., said, "We are delighted for the collaborative assistance and funding we have received in seeing a long-time vision come true. This historic structure is being renovated to once again become an integral part of providing residents a hand up by offering much needed human services for community residents. BFNC, has always been committed to providing programs and services that uplift and empower community members to create a pathway to their success. We wanted residents to feel that they are part of a thriving community comparable to suburban senior communities. Our wish, as a developer, is to develop a community that provided quality and modern housing options, was walkable, and where senior residents would have access to medical care and other enriching activities. This vision was embraced early by developer Dr. Rhonda Ricks and the Coalition for Supported Housing (CSH), that provided us the initial funds."