When you want to create positive change in a community, it helps to have your ear to the ground. That’s precisely the kind of insight that HELP USA relied on in LISC when building their second supportive and affordable housing development in Buffalo, with the goal of reaching the people in greatest need.
To create HELP Buffalo II, a 47-unit project that offers affordable housing for families with minimal incomes, and permanent supportive housing for formerly homeless veterans in the Broadway-Fillmore neighborhood, LISC provided a $204,000 predevelopment loan. LISC’s Bring them HOMES initiative, which specializes in housing for homeless vets, also provided a $40,000 grant, and LISC’s investment affiliate, National Equity Fund (NEF), brought $7.4 million in tax credit equity—more than 57 percent of the total development costs.
But in addition to the financial support, what was especially crucial for the HELP project was LISC’s ability to make connections. “They are the people on the ground who know everybody and are connected to everything,” said Stephen Mott, chief of staff for HELP USA, a leading national housing and homeless services nonprofit. “Of course they have the financial side of it, and that’s incredibly important, but LISC was also able to give us the lay of the land in a place we hadn’t developed in 15 years. There’s a sense of what a community needs that you get from being there, doing deals there.”
In fact, LISC and NEF have supported HELP USA on six projects across the country, providing a total of $50 million in equity.
To get HELP Buffalo II off the ground, LISC connected HELP USA with potential properties to develop and with service providers who could assess the needs of the homeless in Buffalo. “That gave us a huge advantage to finding out how we could help the bigger plans of the city,” said Mott.
Indeed, LISC and NEF have extensive experience with projects designed and developed with the needs of veterans in mind. The Matt Urban Center, a social services agency and LISC partner in Western New York, is providing the property management for the facility and case management services for residents.
Today, HELP Buffalo II sits adjacent to HELP Buffalo I, the agency’s original affordable housing project on Broadway and Hickory Streets (and a third HELP Buffalo project, in fact, is already underway in 2018). The new development includes a community room with warming kitchen, on-site laundry and parking, a children’s playground and an outdoor garden space. They are amenities a community wanted and needed, and they exist today because LISC and its partners were willing to listen.
Photo Credit: LISC Archives
Private Sector Support
Public Sector Support
Executive Director: Michael Clarke
70 West Chippewa St., Suite 604
Buffalo, NY 14202