The AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust (HIT) announced a partnership with the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO and a coalition of unions, area churches and developers known as the United Clergy Task Force (UCTF) to invest up to $300 million in affordable housing, community centers and care facilities on sites in the Metro area.
The seven projects slated for development in the first phase of the partnership are located in the Bronx, Brooklyn, and Jersey City. The partnership will utilize union labor and the projects could create an estimated 1,500 union construction jobs. The Consortium for Worker Education (CWE) will operate a robust apprenticeship program with a particular emphasis on training and hiring residents of the local communities for the construction work.
Noting the significance of the partnership, Richard Trumka, President of the AFL-CIO, said, "This partnership with the United Clergy Task Force has the potential to be a model for how affordable housing can be union built across this country."
The historic partnership, which utilizes union and public pension funds to finance development on the property owned by the religious organizations, aims to address the shortage of affordable housing in the city, as well as offer other benefits in underserved communities. In the last 10 years, 400,000 rental units with rents less than $1,000 per month disappeared from the housing market in New York City, while median apartment rents increased a staggering 75 percent since 2000.
"We welcome the opportunity to provide construction and permanent financing for the housing elements of the plan," said Stephen Coyle, HIT's CEO. "Working with the task force, the Building and Construction Trades Council unions, the Central Labor Council, and the Consortium for Worker Education, we are paving a new avenue for the construction of affordable housing in this nation and creating good paying jobs that can support working families. This is an unprecedented opportunity to strengthen the fabric of our communities."
Vincent Alvarez, President of the New York City Central Labor Council, AFL-CIO, said the partnership will help create good jobs for hardworking New Yorkers, while helping to increase the supply of affordable housing available in the City. "By convening this coalition of labor, clergy, and community groups, we are bringing together the local stakeholders determined to help provide real opportunities for more people to live, work, raise families, and invest in their local communities," he said.
"This $300 million investment clearly demonstrates that needed affordable housing can be built while also creating good, middle-class construction jobs with benefits," said Gary LaBarbera, President of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York. "We look forward to continue developing ways to address the affordable housing shortage in New York City and create real opportunities for working families in underserved communities."
David Aviles, UCTF's Executive Director, said that each religious institution has served as a community anchor for decades and is seeking to increase its ability to provide social services and economic opportunities for their long disenfranchised communities.
"Each institution owns their land," Mr. Aviles said. "Most have owned their property for more than 30 years. The focus of these projects is to provide each community with quality housing affordable for working families, modern schools, and public recreation facilities and to do so in a way that creates jobs and maximizes the local economic impact in a sustainable manner."
The initial local participating religious organizations include:
- St. Paul Community Baptist Church, Brooklyn, NY
- Bay Ridge Community Church, Brooklyn, NY
- Heavenly Temple Church of God, Jersey City, NJ
- Al Iman Plaza Islamic Institution, Bronx, NY
- Thessalonica Christian Church, Bronx, NY
- La Hermosa Church, Bronx, NY
- Westchester United Methodist Church, Bronx, NY
Key members of the development team include Mr. Aviles, who is also Executive Director, and Principal at Restructuring Economic Populations, Inc.; Gregory Crawley, Managing Director, CD Group, LLC, and consultants Guillermo Garita, Datumzero Design Office- Architects, and John McDermott with CWE, which currently administers the Edward J. Malloy Initiative for Construction Skills (the apprenticeship training program of the Greater New York Building and Construction Trades Council). Others firms providing services to the UCTF include Nixon Peabody, Holland & Knight, Novogradac & Co., Wordsmith Communication Strategies, and DaBx Demand Side Solutions, Inc.
The United Clergy Task Force will also be working the Forsyth Street Advisors to design the financing for the first project. Marc Jahr, Consultant at Community Development Futures, LLC, and former President of HDC, who will be on the Forsyth team, said, "I welcome this opportunity to be involved in one of the most important affordable housing initiatives in this city in years."
In October, the HIT announced a new $1 billion strategy to build and sustain affordable housing in the five Boroughs using all union labor. The five New York City Retirement Systems also announced their additional investment $150 million in pension capital to HIT, investments that will help capitalize HIT's new strategy to build and sustain affordable housing in the five Boroughs using all union labor, including the new partnership with UCTF.
Specifically, the HIT strategy over the next seven years will preserve the affordability of 12,500 to 15,000 housing units and construct 5,000 to 7,500 new housing units. The HIT will also work with city and state agencies to finance and improve affordable public housing. The HIT's $1 billion new commitment should result in $2.6 billion in total economic benefit to New York City, 14,700 total jobs across industries, 7,300 union construction jobs, and $1.0 billion in personal income, including wages and benefits.
The HIT has been actively investing workers' capital to address the housing shortfall. In January 2002, HIT launched the New York City Community Investment Initiative, a multi-phased investment strategy, to help meet the city's urgent need for investment capital following the 9/11 attacks. Since 2002, these investments have generated an estimated $1.6 billion in total economic activity, $676 million in personal income and created 9,600 jobs, including 4,830 on-site union construction jobs. Under the initiative, 31,099 housing and healthcare units were created or rehabilitated, with 96% of those affordable or workforce housing. When the new $1 billion strategy is completed, the HIT will have financed more than 50,000 affordable units in the City.
QUOTES FROM STAKEHOLDERS
Reverend David K. Brawley - St. Paul Community Baptist Church:
"It has been said that the ultimate in urban renewal is not necessarily a new house, but a new man in a new house and the relationship of faith and labor today affords us the opportunity to make this a reality."
Richard Ravitch, Former Lieutenant Governor, State of New York
Chairman, AFL-CIO Housing Investment Trust:
"There is no more compelling issue facing our cities today than to provide housing particularly for the neediest people."
Scott M. Stringer, Comptroller, City of New York:
"You can't build affordable housing without the key components: labor, community, and what we are showing today, clergy. This is how you put roofs over peoples' heads, this is how you reduce homelessness, this is how you create a city for everybody."
John McDermott, CWE:
"In terms of scope and the potential economic impact it's difficult to overstate of HIT's investment in NYC's affordable housing market. HIT has always been adept at capturing the Building Trades employment generated by their investments and that's been enormously valuable. But for the UCTF, working with the Central Labor Council and the CWE as well as local community groups and the houses of worship themselves, we intend to capture, as far as possible all of the employment opportunity created by the building activity, transportation, manufacturing, professional services as well as the "leave behind" post-construction employment in these mixed use developments. It's kind of a reverse gentrification; we're not building these developing so affluent people will move into these communities, we are building so these communities will become more affluent."
Ruben Diaz, Jr., Bronx Borough President:
"This program and this announcement and this compact today does exactly that, it sheds light on the darkness of the spiralling abyss that so many New Yorkers and so many beyond New York are facing."
Letitia A. James, Public Advocate, City of New York:
"Faith based organizations have a long and rich history of responding to the needs of God's children spiritually, soulfully, and substantively. And so today we are celebrating a game changing union between clergy and labor to boost affordable housing in our city."
Bishop Angelo Rosario, Chairman, Bronx Clergy Task Force:
"I don't think that God intended us to live in poverty. He put us in a tremendous garden and we became caretakers of that particular place so that we could be a blessing to each other...labor does that. It takes care of people of every denomination; every race and we become one people, unity, to be able to make change."