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[IMGCAP(1)]BROOKLYN, NY-A long-dormant block on Atlantic Avenue in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, Brooklyn, is expected to generate almost $34.5 million in economic stimulus, thanks to the affordable condominiums that Habitat for Humanity is building on the site. Every dollar invested by Habitat-NYC in its Atlantic Avenue complex, will generate approximately $3 in economic activity to New York City, HR&A Advisors Inc. reported in a July 2008 economic and fiscal impact study.

HR&A examined the Habitat-NYC’s Ocean Hill-Brownsville project, which comprises 41 units of affordable condos. About 10,000 volunteers will help construct these homes, spending money in the community and helping revitalize it, according to a prepared statement. Habitat-NYC will buy supplies from local businesses; and construction workers, future homeowners and volunteers will buy lunches in the area. Together, this is expected to channel nearly $2 million directly to Ocean Hill-Brownsville during the two-year construction period. Volenteer work began September 2007.

[IMGCAP(2)]Josh Lockwood, executive director of Habitat-NYC, tells GlobeSt.com that the 53,000-sf multifamily building comprises one-, two- and three-bedroom condos and will consist of three four-story buildings. Construction is expected to be completed in 2009.

Total development costs for the project is $13 million. A $7.3-million construction loan came from Citibank; $1.64 million came from the New York State Affordable Housing Corp.; $1.85 million came from the New York City Affordable Housing Trust Fund; $400,000 from the Brooklyn Borough President’s Office; $820,000 from the Independence Community Foundation; $5.1 million in sales revenues. The remainder is being raised through corporate, foundation and individual gifts. New York City’s Department of Housing Development and Preservation sold the land to Habitat-NYC for $13 million.

Lockwood says that “we know that investing in affordable housing provides hardworking, low-income families with desperately needed homes. We also know that the combined efforts of Habitat-NYC homebuyers, volunteers and staff are having an impact far beyond the walls of our project.” He adds that “their analysis underscores that affordable housing development spurs economic development.”

Habit homeowners must: earn between 45% to 80% of the city’s area median income–$34,560 to $61.450 for a family of four; will work at least 300 hours per adult—to a maximum of 600 hours—to help build their homes; and will pay no more than 33% of their income on housing.

As previously mentioned, the project is expected to generate about $34.5 million in economic activity over the next 40 years. It is also expected to: generate approximately $3 for every dollar invested in the project, more than a 300 percent return on project investment by Habitat-NYC and its supporters; support 111 jobs and create $20.45 million in economic activity during the two-year construction phase alone; and funnel $2 million of that $20.45 million directly to businesses in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, strengthening the economy of one of the city’s lowest- income neighborhoods.

Over the next four decades, the project and its new 41 Habitat-NYC homeowners are expected to spend $13.9 million in New York City; and contribute more than $4.4 million in tax revenues to the city. “Construction of affordable housing doesn’t just provide low-cost homes for the families moving in to new apartments, it also brings jobs and business to neighborhoods and a boost to our city’s economy,” says Shaun Donovan, commissioner of the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, in a prepared statement.

Habitat-NYC’s Atlantic Avenue complex is considered the largest multifamily project ever built by a Habitat affiliate. It will meet stringent LEED green-building standards, providing healthy, sustainable and energy-efficient homes. The project will: have energy star appliances and lighting fixtures; high-efficiency boilers; energy-efficient, low-emissivity windows; non-toxic and sustainable construction materials; will be landscaped with drought-resistant plants and permeable paving; and homeowners will be able to save an estimated 30% or more on their utility bills.

Eric Rothman, president of HR&A, says in a prepared statement that “what made this economic and fiscal impact analysis so compelling was valuing the combined contributions of Habitat-NYC and the thousands of volunteers who are building the Atlantic Avenue project. HR&A combined sophisticated economic models with dozens of on-the-ground interviews with construction staff and volunteers to accurately capture the full impact of Habitat-NYC’s innovative work.”

Priscilla Almodovar, president and CEO of the NYS Affordable Housing Corp. says that “investing state resources in affordable housing not only provides much- needed homes for working families, but also provides an important economic stimulus for emerging neighborhoods. That’s why the Affordable Housing Corp. invested in Habitat’s condo development in Ocean Hill-Brownsville and why we continue to invest in homeownership throughout New York City.”

Habitat-NYC has completed over 170 homes for families throughout the five boroughs of Manhattan, with current construction ongoing and future construction projects planned throughout the City. Another current project the agency is working on is a development on Halsey and Marcus Garvey Boulevard in Bedford-Stuyvesant, which is currently under construction and will create affordable homes for nine families. That project is also being built in compliance with Energy Star standards.

New York State has recently upped affordable housing awareness. As GlobeSt.com previously reported, Gov. David Paterson and Division of Housing & Community Renewal Commissioner Deborah VanAmerongen revealed a new plan to promote the continued development of affordable housing communities throughout the State through a statewide Public Service Announcement campaign. The PSAs were part of a larger campaign–Affordable Housing Works–which promotes high quality affordable housing developments across New York State.

The Governor has also been pro-active this year in his approach to improving and expanding housing opportunities across New York State. Recently, as GlobeSt.com reported, the New York State Division of Housing and Community Renewal revealed that it was dividing $137 million over four projects to create or revitalize 6,415 units for affordable housing. In June, the boards of the New York State Housing Finance Agency and the New York State Affordable Housing Corp. approved nearly $719 million in financing to create and preserve 1,802 units of affordable housing in New York City. In May, Gov. Paterson revealed that the State was providing $25.5 million in grants and financing to build and renovate 396 units of affordable housing in New York State. The grants were allocated to neighborhoods in New York City and Western New York.

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