New York, NY
The Fortune Society champions an effective model of blending supportive housing for the formerly incarcerated with affordable rentals for low-income families. With a $1 million Project Start Fund loan from Leviticus, it is pursuing a third development project in Upper Manhattan to offer stability for those who might otherwise cycle through jails and homeless shelters.
“Clients of the Fortune Society face triple-edge discrimination. It is discrimination based on race, based on criminal record, and based on source of income if people have vouchers. We got involved in housing because it is desperately needed and not available to our clients.
“The people we serve have lived through multiple traumas with incarceration being one, but often not the only one. We really work at wrap-around services to stabilize people, and help address their behavioral health challenges and trauma. More than half of our staff comes from the same life experiences as our clients, and this really matters. We build a community where people support each other, and we make a life-time commitment to people. The truth about substance abuse and mental health is that they are life-time struggles, and we believe you don’t ever give up on a person.
“Nothing has the power, the depth or the inspiration for me as the housing work we do. Castle III will be a mix of permanent supportive housing for our population and deeply affordable housing for the community. If you don’t have a safe place to lay your head, everything else is shaky. Housing is what anchors people, and you watch lives change.
“Leviticus provided the predevelopment funding that was essential for this project, and it was done in a very supportive way that works really well financially. They also talked us through the predevelopment process, and how to best manage the vendors that we are working with. There is a big difference between being a lender who is a lender, and a lender who is a partner with a shared sense of mission. Leviticus is a partner with a shared sense of mission.”
President & CEO
The Fortune Society
Castle III at a Glance
Affordable and supportive rental housing
Seabury Housing Cooperative
New Haven, CT
Founded almost a half-century ago, Seabury Housing Co-op struggled under the financial weight of deferred building maintenance and inefficient energy systems. When one of the building’s two elevators failed, the Leviticus Fund provided financing for the emergency work to modernize both elevators and keep residents safe.
“Seabury is an 87-unit, resident-controlled co-op that is 45 years old and has not had much work done to it over those years. Most of the residents have been there for a very long time, including a lot of seniors who have aged in place. It is in downtown New Haven, just a block or two from the Yale University campus. New luxury apartments are going up everywhere, and Seabury is one of the few remaining oases in the area that truly provides affordable housing. The mantra is ‘save Seabury’, and there is a lot of interest in helping the building stabilize and succeed for the long-term.
“Work on the elevators was a priority almost from the beginning because they were the original elevators. Last summer they started to fail, and we were down to one elevator, so it went from a priority to an emergency repair. Buildings that are over four stories in New Haven need to have an elevator. If the second elevator went down, it would have been catastrophic. We would have needed to vacate the top three floors and relocate all of those tenants because of the lack of elevators.
“Talk about saving Seabury! It was incredible for Leviticus to step in behind three other lenders at that level of potential risk. Few nonprofit lenders would have done that, and I think you can see the success.
“All the work is completed, and people are extremely happy. Beyond the health, safety and convenience of workable elevators, the difference in the electric usage cost of those 45-year-old elevators compared to the new ones is substantial. It’s going to have a significant impact on the building’s electrical usage, and trying to achieve greater efficiencies.”
Kluetsch Consulting LLC
Seabury Housing Cooperative III at a Glance
Bridge Loan Emergency Building Repairs
Paiva Netto Educational and Social Assistance Center
The New York-New Jersey-Connecticut area is a vast “child-care desert”, where demand for licensed child-care programs far exceeds local capacity. Financing from the Leviticus Fund supported efforts to speed-up delivery of a new education and social program center modeled on effective facilities operating in Latin American and European countries.
“The Legion of Good Will has worked in the U.S. for 34 years. This is our first center here, and it is based on a well-established model that we use in 90 locations across six other countries. Our centers look at situations of poverty from the perspective of family, school and community together. We not only provide quality curriculum, but also infuse in the classroom experiences for the children to develop their sense of solidarity, of community-building, of being a global citizen. Our social workers work with teachers to provide quality services for the children, and also to the families. We want to provide families with opportunities to get better jobs, to be informed about their rights, to get out of situations of poverty.
“Our relationship with Newark was only natural because we quickly realized there was a very large Portuguese-speaking community from Portugal and Brazil. They were very familiar with our work from their own countries, and began contacting us to offer volunteer services and ways to connect.
“We have had ongoing programs in Newark for the last 18 years where we distribute free food baskets and school kits for families in need. We also have an educational program in the public schools called Good Will Students for Peace, that uses our unique pedagogical approach to help reduce violence, and promote quality education and social equity in the area.
“This center is beneficial to the whole community and the neighbors are especially happy. The building had been a blight for almost two decades. The project was a challenge from the beginning because we had to pull together so many people to make it happen. But it shows the power of collaboration of individuals and community partners that put their good will into practice.
“We were counting only on resources from our donors and partners for this project, but the loan from Leviticus expedited the pace of construction. Leviticus has been a great supporter, not just in the sense of access to this loan, but also helping us manage this real estate transaction. Leviticus became one of our major partners to make this dream come true.”
Legion of Good Will U.S.
Paiva Netto Educational and Social Assistance Center at a Glance
Children Served, 1,300 Families
Leviticus provided two loans totaling $584,639 to support the transformation of a former hardware finishing facility into a multifamily affordable and supportive housing development. Gateway Lofts is a collaboration between Southern Tier Environments for Living (STEL), a nonprofit affordable housing developer, and Community Helping Hands (CHH), a faith-based social services organization.
“All of our projects have a lot of upfront costs. The biggest one by far is architectural plans. The construction-ready drawings for Gateway Lofts cost close to a million dollars.
“The brownfield investigation for Gateway was also expensive. The building had been a finishing plant for hardware used in furniture manufacturing, and the soil is contaminated with chemicals used in the process. We incurred large costs to investigate the contamination thoroughly, so there would be no surprises after we started construction.
“It used to be that developers would use their own resources to pay for the upfront costs, but as the costs have become larger, it has become common for developers to borrow the money for predevelopment.
“We hope to start construction on Gateway Lofts in September or October 2021. The building will provide 110-units of affordable housing, including 56 supportive units designated for special needs populations. The first floor will include more than 41,000 square feet of facilities space for CCH and other social service organizations.
“Without the support from Leviticus, STEL would have had to pay out of pocket for the upfront costs for Gateway Lofts, and we probably couldn’t have afforded to do that. Even if we could have afforded it, having Leviticus help pay those costs allows us to do more projects. Gateway Lofts would have been a failed project if it wasn’t for Leviticus. I can’t express how happy I am that we found them. They are really great people to work with.”
Director of Real Estate Development
Southern Tier Environments for Living
Gateway Lofts at a Glance
of affordable and supportive housing
of community facilities space
Hudson Hill will provide much-needed affordable and supportive housing for southwest Yonkers while incorporating state-of-the-art green technologies in an award-winning design. The loan was the eleventh that Leviticus has made to Westhab, the project’s nonprofit developer and Westchester’s largest provider of housing and services for the homeless.
“Hudson Hill is located not far from the Yonkers waterfront, which has received tremendous investment and is rapidly changing. But the Hudson Hill neighborhood itself hasn’t had much investment. So this project is about investing in a community that is underserved and helping it become a place where people want to live.
“All of Hudson Hill’s 113 units will be permanent affordable housing, and 45 units will be supportive housing for formerly homeless families. The supportive tenants will have an individualized living plan to make sure they get the community-based resources—including physical and mental health services, youth services for their children, and employment services—they need to thrive in independent living.
“What makes Hudson Hill truly unique is the green technology the building will incorporate. Every single material on the project is being selected for its energy efficiency. Westhab recently received a $1 million award for the design of Hudson Hill through New York State’s Buildings of Excellence competition. The project was selected for its low carbon performance, ability to be adopted broadly, and healthy and safe living environment.
“Westhab has great expertise in how to finance and develop affordable housing. What we don’t have is a lot of early capital. The funding from Leviticus supported both the acquisition and the predevelopment costs of Hudson Hill. Leviticus provided the exact capital we needed, and because of it, I am very confident we are going to get to an amazing outcome for this community.”
President and CEO