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National nonprofit HELP USA to start low-income housing project in Buffalo

A national nonprofit homeless service provider is finally starting work to convert a historic building on the East Side into affordable housing for low-income families and veterans.

New York City-based HELP USA, in conjunction with the city and state, plans to renovate a vacant historic building at 368 Broadway and combine it with new construction on adjacent lots to create a complex with 47 apartments. The $12.9 million project had originally been unveiled over three years ago.

Plans by Flynn Battaglia Architecture call for an adaptive reuse of the existing three-story structure, with offices and community space on the lower level and apartments on the upper floors. Two new four-story buildings will be constructed next door on an open lot for the bulk of the apartments.

A neighboring historic building at 362 Broadway, whose facade was originally going to be incorporated in the project, was instead demolished earlier this year because of its deteriorating condition.

Fifteen apartments will be aimed at homeless veterans who will receive rental subsidies from the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority and social services from the Lt. Col. Matt Urban Human Services Center of Western New York. The rest are targeted to low- and moderate-income individuals and families, with incomes at or below 60 percent of the area median. The breakdown will include 16 one-bedroom units, 25 two-bedroom apartments and six three-bedroom units.

The complex also will include counseling and case management services, delivered by community partners in specialized space, as well as a garden, playground, indoor community room, warming kitchen, laundry, parking and management offices.

“Today's announcement speaks volumes about the value of partnerships to tackle the ills of poverty," said HELP USA President and CEO Tom Hameline. "Housing is a first step to a better life, so we are committed to providing safe, secure homes for homeless veterans and low-income families. Our progress here is a testament to the dedication of our partners across our city and state, but also reflects our broader mission to meet the needs of the underserved not only in Western New York but at our more than 50 programs across the country."

The new HELP Buffalo II project, at the corner of Broadway and Hickory Street, will be located across the street from HELP's previous development in Buffalo, the Hickory Street Apartments at 384 Hickory. That earlier project, created in a restoration of the former Buffalo Awning & Tent building completed in June 1999, consists of 25 units of housing for formerly homeless adults.

“This development marks a significant step for us in Buffalo, representing the second site in which HELP USA is providing permanent housing for veterans and low-income individuals and families," said David Cleghorn, senior vice president of real estate development for HELP USA. "The site is in the heart of a wonderful neighborhood steeped in history and architectural character. We are gratified to step in to redevelop a long-neglected building into a place that will change so many lives for the better."

Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown, Buffalo Common Council President Darius Pridgen, other city and state officials and representatives from HELP broke ground on the new project Oct. 18. Construction by R&P Oak Hill Building Co. is expected to be completed by May 1, 2017.

"As we continue to enhance the City of Buffalo’s offerings to attract visitors, businesses and new residents, we’re also working together to meet the needs of current residents, including our seniors and veterans, while breathing new life into historic buildings," Brown said. "Through this spirit of collaboration, we’re converting an historic building into new affordable housing, ensuring the creation of good, high quality and affordable apartments for Buffalo families."

The project is supported by $743,700 in Low-Income Housing Tax Credits and $1.9 million in Housing Trust Fund dollars through New York State Homes and Community Renewal, as well as money from the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York, $750,000 in city of Buffalo HOME funds, $47,000 in state energy funds, the Citi Foundation and a $1.7 million grant from the State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance's State Homeless Housing and Assistance Program.

Founded in 1986, HELP USA serves more than 8,000 people daily at over 50 programs and residences in four states. The organization has served more than 375,000 men, women and children over its 30-year history, with over 3,500 units of permanent and transitional housing.


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