Two new home development projects sponsored by the Matt Urban Center in the city's Broadway-Fillmore district should be ready for construction by the beginning of the year.
An apartment complex for very young adults can get under way now that a $3.1 million state grant has been awarded for the project.
And, the Buffalo Planning Board recently approved Crescent Village, a $5 million community development project in a 16-block area that will include market-rate new builds, subsidized new builds, homes that have been rehabilitated and sold, and owner-occupied homes that have been upgraded.
"We're so lucky," Marlies Wesolowski, executive director of the center, said of the grant from the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance.
The Matt Urban Center was the only applicant in Erie County to be awarded one of the $38 million in grants to fund various housing projects.
The money will be used to construct a 12-unit, two-bedroom apartment complex -- through a collaboration with Gateway Longview -- for young people who have been in foster care and are too old to be adopted, yet too young to be on their own.
"They've aged out of foster care, basically," Wesolowski said.
The center will provide the housing, and Gateway Longview will provide the clients and social service support to transition them from being dependent to independent.
Each apartment will house two boys or two girls, or a parent and child, as some of the young clients have children of their own.
In addition to the apartments, there will be a playground, a day care center and a community room with a computer lab. All of the services will be on site.
The apartment complex will also address some logistic issues, explained James Sampson, president of Gateway Longview.
"Currently, the kids are in scattered apartments throughout the city. In this way, we'll be able to bring them together in one spot," he said.
"And we're bringing together the strength of Matt Urban's construction and community development and our strength in working with the foster care system."
Construction will begin once a site is chosen.
The original location identified by the center was at the corner of Guilford Street and Broadway, but the state Office of Child and Family Services had concerns about the security of the young adults at that location.
"If the site we chose is not approved by them, then we have to work with them to find a site they would feel more comfortable with," Wesolowski said.
At the nearby proposed site for Crescent Village, the goal is to secure a builder by Jan. 1. Earlier this month, the city Planning Board approved the housing project, Wesolowski said.
"In order to go to bid, we needed this. All the approvals have been given in terms of models, styles and site plans. Now, we'll look for a builder," she explained.
One of the largest housing revitalization projects ever launched in that neighborhood, Crescent Village is bounded by Broadway, Walden Avenue, Loepere, and Sobieski streets.
Depending on the availability of funding and future demand for East Side housing, the Crescent Village project eventually could result in as much as $20 million in new investment in a neighborhood that has been plagued in recent years by a shrinking population and abandoned properties.