Hope Gardens opened on Buffalo's East Side about two years ago, providing 20 apartments and a picturesque, safe haven for chronically homeless women.
The project cost $5.6 million. A piece of the funding was a $280,000 grant that M&T Bank helped the project's sponsor, the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of Western New York, obtain from the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York.
"Without these kinds of partnerships, these projects would not be built," said Marlies Wesolowski, the center's executive director.
It's one of many examples of how Buffalo-based M&T has helped nonprofit organizations obtain grants through the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York's Affordable Housing Program, which supports development of affordable housing.
"Simply put, over the past 25 years of the program has been in existence, M&T has been the largest, most significant user of the community investment programs," said Jose R. Gonzalez, president and CEO of the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York. He presented M&T's chairman and CEO, Robert G. Wilmers, with a Community Pillar Award for M&T's involvement.
Since 1991, M&T has helped obtain $94.2 million in grants from the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York to support 257 projects that have built or preserved 12,316 units of affordable housing, predominantly in New York State.
The Federal Home Loan Bank of New York consists of about 330 member financial institutions, including megabanks, community banks, thrifts and insurance companies. Its territory covers New York State, New Jersey, Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Each year, the bank allocates 10 percent of its net income as grants to affordable housing initiatives. The grants are awarded through a competitive application process. The projects applying for the funds must be sponsored by a member bank, as was the case when M&T helped secure a grant for Hope Gardens in 2012.
M&T has also been active in the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York's First Home Club, which helps lower-income people save toward the purchase of a new home. Under that program, launched in 1995, M&T has accessed $17 million in grants to help 2,201 households become homeowners.
Wilmers said M&T has "long been committed to the growth and wellness of our entire community."
"Our city in the midst of a tremendous turnaround," Wilmers said. "There's still much work to be done to ensure the city's renaissance reaches every corner, every citizen."
Wesolowski praised M&T and the Federal Home Loan Bank for supporting Hope Gardens. She noted that the 20 women living at the complex collectively had 100 years of homelessness. "In many cases, this is the first home that some of these ladies have had in a very long time."