Louella’s Legacy

Across the country, religious institutions are trying to maintain aging buildings with dwindling congregations. But the silver lining is that this vexing problem might be a tool in the fight against homelessness.

In 2018, First Union Baptist Church in the Bronx’s Mt. Hope neighborhood had deteriorated beyond repair. But a team of mission-driven organizations came together to build much-needed affordable senior housing – and deliver a state-of-the-art worship space.

This incredibly complex effort benefited from the Leviticus Fund’s patient and flexible capital, and our long relationship with The Community Builders (TCB). An acquisition and predevelopment loan of $4,631,890 from the Leviticus Fund in March of 2023 is our second to the project, and our 11th to TCB.

The new 85-unit development will provide affordable and supportive housing for seniors in a low-income tract in the Bronx with 25 units set aside for chronically homeless seniors.

The building will be named “The Louella,” after Louella Hatch, who served her Mt. Hope community from 1983 until her death in 2017. From helping seniors stay in their homes to distributing food to neighbors in need, and from connecting kids with summer jobs programs to hosting the Bronx’s first National Night Out Against Crime, she had a “legacy of public service that spanned a lifetime,” according to Congressman Ritchie Torres.

The Leviticus Fund is examining ways of working with faith communities to repurpose surplus property in ways that will serve the vulnerable. The Louella promises to be a good example.