Community Investment News

Fall 2012

View Print Version

Housing Advocacy is Vital
Alfred A. DelliBovi, president and CEO of the FHLBNY, was named to the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission in December 2011.

By Alfred A. DelliBovi

In December of last year, I was named to the Bipartisan Policy Center’s Housing Commission, which has gathered leaders from across the housing spectrum to look at the challenges facing the industry and develop solutions that will preserve a sound national housing policy. Earlier this year, in these very pages, we referred to the Housing Commission as “a new voice for housing.” It is also an important one.

In Washington, the focus remains fixed on the November elections. But in the next Presidential term, our elected officials will begin to take a serious look at housing finance reform, an issue that has long been stalled in the hallowed halls of Congress. And when those discussions begin in earnest, you can be sure that there will be many voices competing to be heard. We need to make sure that the voice that rings the loudest is the one that supports affordable, responsible homeownership, backed by the local lender.

Decorated for the holiday, Branch Village, located in Camden, New Jersey, consists of sixty-seven newly affordable housing units. The FHLBNY and its member, Liberty Bell Bank, provided the project with a $1.1 million Affordable Housing Grant in 2010.

I have spoken with my fellow commissioners at length on the virtues of the local lender. Recently, Ed DeMarco, acting director of the Federal Housing Finance Agency, referred to Home Loan Bank members as “front-line, local lenders.” Our Home Loan Bank of New York cooperative is made up of 341 such lenders, active and committed members of the communities they serve. Housing is not only the cornerstone of our nation’s economy, it is also the foundation on which our communities are built. The community bank model of knowing their customers and supporting them with responsible, prudent lending has worked to the benefit of this country for decades. We must continue to protect that foundation.

I believe in the principle that great things can grow from the base of a stable home. Sensible and responsible policies will revitalize our country’s housing sector and, in turn, the greater economy. This is what the Housing Commission was created to do: develop the housing policies that will serve as solutions to the challenges that continue to batter our economy. And now, we must all make sure that we lend our voices to these sensible policies, those which stress the importance of responsible, affordable homeownership. Now is the time to speak up. If we are silent on this issue, you can be sure that there will be others who will fill the void.

Empowering Women, Providing Hope and Homes in White Plains
Ninety-eight years after its original construction, YWCA’s Resident for Women in White Plains, New York, hosts a new total of 191 units for its female residents.

For more than 80 years, the YWCA of White Plains and Central Westchester has been an advocate for women and their families, implementing programs and offering services in an effort to provide for a better quality of life. On June 11, 2012, the perseverance of this organization’s commitment to service was clearly evident at the official grand re-opening of its Residence for Women in White Plains. This building is indeed in a class by itself, as it is the only affordable, permanent housing facility for single women in Westchester that also includes the provision of supportive services.

The Residence is the result of a partnership between a variety of public and private funding sources. The project boasts an impressive development design, as roughly $26.9 million in financing provided for the necessary renovations to the existing 183 units, and new construction of eight new units, all while the historic components of the original building, built in 1914, were preserved. New roofs, terraces, external masonry, and elevators now compliant with the Americans with Disabilities Act, are amongst the newly completed renovations to the YWCA, as well as upgrades to the life safety systems with the addition of fire detection and suppression systems, and alarm systems. Furthermore, the building now incorporates a green design, featuring energy efficient heating systems with sustainable materials.

The most significant amenities, however, have remained the same, as the YWCA Residence provides case management, supportive services, and social services for many of its female residents that have been affected by domestic violence, medical illness, substance abuse, and psychiatric disabilities. Case management provisions provide connections to doctors, families and social services; and education resources such as employment counseling, job training and interview preparation, are available to the residents, either on site, or through referrals. Through these services, the YWCA residence is a manifestation of the YWCA mission: eliminating racism, empowering women, and promoting peace, justice, freedom, and dignity for all.

The Federal Home Loan Bank of New York was an integral financier to the YWCA Residence, providing approximately $2.4 million through the award of two AHP grants administered through M&T Bank, including a $2 million grant in 2007. Other key financing partners included DHCR HOME funds, Federal low income housing tax credits, the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Homeless Housing Program, the City of White Plains, Westchester County, NYSERDA, Enterprise Green Communities, and grants from Home Depot and Con Edison.

The grand re-opening was a proud moment for all who have supported the YWCA’s mission.

Joseph Gallo, Community Investment Officer at the FHLBNY, was among many speakers who gathered to mark the grand re-opening of the YWCA Residence in White Plains, New York on June 11.

“The FHLBNY knows just how important the YWCA is to the Central Westchester community, and how vital its mission,” said Joseph Gallo, director of Community Investment for the FHLBNY at the event. “We are proud to support such a tremendous organization.”

Congresswoman Nita Lowey (NY-18), who attended the reopening ceremony, said in a press release on the event:  “I am proud to see the re-opening of the beautifully renovated YWCA. For years the YWCA has come to the aid of women in need and worked to change their lives and help them take meaningful steps toward independence. I applaud the YWCA for their exceptional work in the community and look forward to their many accomplishments in the years to come.”

 

Home Loan Banks Support National Housing Efforts Locally
The first group of FHLBNY employees applied stucco in order to protect the foundation of the home. Habitat for Humanity hopes to have the family settled in by December, before the holidays.

Responsible and affordable housing is a cornerstone of our nation’s economy. This is why the Federal Home Loan Banks have strongly supported Habitat for Humanity, which strives to build and repair reasonably priced homes across the country. These efforts have helped families find stable footing and have strengthened communities nationwide. Since 1990, the Federal Home Loan Bank System has contributed more than $195 million in Affordable Housing Program grants to Habitat for Humanity. These activities have made the Home Loan Banks the largest single funding source for Habitat, and, more importantly, have helped create 23,882 affordable homes.

The Federal Home Loan Bank of New York has contributed $7 million to local Habitat chapters, funding 94 projects and creating 663 homes across the region. But the FHLBNY has found other ways to support the group, as well. Over the span of two days this June, thirty enthusiastic volunteers from the FHLBNY joined with Habitat for Humanity of Raritan Valley to aid in the construction of a home in Somerset, New Jersey. The first group of volunteers helped finish the house’s groundwork by applying mesh and stucco to the foundation. The subflooring was then completed by the second group when the volunteers placed and glued the interlocking floor panels. The volunteers on both days toiled under temperatures that soared into the 90s; however, they remained eager to build the home for the young family of five who will soon become its occupants. “Despite the heat, I would do it all over again,” assured Regina Cooper, Sales and Marketing Administrative Assistant. “I was honored to be a part of such a great opportunity in helping build a family a home.”

The committed Federal Home Loan Bank employees show pride in their day’s work, helping build an energy efficient home for a family of five.

This summer, the 12 Home Loan Banks were presented with another opportunity to support affordable housing, joined together to provide $60,000 in grants to Bike & Build. Through service-oriented cross-country cycling trips, Bike & Build strives to inspire individuals and communities to create fair, decent housing for all Americans. As these brave volunteers cycle across the country, they make various stops at affordable housing construction sites and contribute hours of labor at each individual location, helping to build homes. Through local seminars, the group spreads awareness of affordable housing initiatives and needs nationwide. And the group raises funds to support projects — over nine seasons, Bike & Build has contributed $3,387,200 to housing groups to fund projects planned and executed by young adults. Bike & Build had 128 cyclists pedaling through the FHLBNY’s district, spreading awareness of the national need for affordable housing in communities across New York.

The Federal Home Loan Bank of New York believes the goals and achievements of Habitat for Humanity and Bike & Build strongly contribute to our mission to create housing opportunities and drive local community development. These organizations have proven to be instrumental in creating affordable housing for many families and neighborhoods across the country, and the FHLBNY is proud to support them.

Program Spotlight: First Home Clubsm
With matching funds up to $7,500, the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York has contributed more than $38 million in grants to help 6,000 households become first-time homeowners.

Initially designed and launched in 1995 by President Al DelliBovi, the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York’s First Home Clubsm (FHC) has been helping low-income families find homes for over 17 years. The program was developed in order to make the American dream of becoming a first time homebuyer an achievable goal to all families, especially those with low incomes who may not customarily be considered candidates for homeownership. As a non-competitive, special set-aside of the FHLBNY’s Affordable Housing Program (AHP), the program is administered through approved members of the FHLBNY.

Through the FHC program, a maximum grant of $7,500 is provided to qualified households to be used toward down payment and closing cost assistance in the purchase of a new home. In order to be deemed an eligible for an FHC grant, the total household income may not exceed 80% of the area median income, as determined by the Mortgage Revenue Bond Limits for the prospective occupant’s current residence. The household must also satisfy the criteria to meet the definition of a first time homebuyer, establish a savings account, and complete a counseling seminar to educate them on foreclosure and predatory lending.

One of the most significant aspects of the FHC Program is the requirement that all households enroll and open a savings account through an active FHC participating member. Each household establishes an agreement with an FHLBNY member, whereby they consent to deposit a specific amount in this savings account each month, for a minimum of 10 months and a maximum of 24 months, in order to reach an equity goal. As the household continues to make consistent deposits in this savings account, the simulation of making a mortgage payment is paralleled. Finally, upon reaching their equity goal, the FHLBNY will provide a matching grant of $4 for every $1 saved, up to a total grant of $7,500.

Counseling is arguable the fundamental element to which the First Home Club Program can attribute its success. Each participating household must complete a counseling seminar though an approved agency, that teaches our future homeowners the essential lessons with regard to what it takes to purchase a home and how to establish a monthly budget to suit the household income. The FHLBNY requires that each household attends a minimum six-hour course, with at least one hour of one-on-one counseling. And this counseling works: the FHC program has a foreclosure rate of less than one percent.

The FHC Program continues to gain momentum since it was established in 1995 – more than $38 million has assisted nearly 6,000 households achieve the dream of owning a home. The partnership between the FHLBNY members, counseling agencies, and their unique relationship with each individual household is one that clearly works. And with the low rate of default for households who have received FHC grants, the future for these homeowners looks bright.

A Vision Realized
Supporters gather in Brooklyn as Concern for Independent Living, Inc. cuts the ribbon to officially open the borough’s newest community asset.

When the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York first toured the plot of land at MacDougal Street in 2009, it was just an empty lot on a street corner in Brooklyn. But Concern for Independent Living, Inc. saw great promise in the location. As Ralph Fasano, executive director of Concern for Independent Living, walked the group through its plans for the site, it became clear to all that something great was in store for MacDougal Street.

When Concern first purchased the site, it promised to improve the neighborhood by developing an attractive building that would serve as an asset to the community; increase employment opportunities; encourage the stability, self-sufficiency and productivity of adults living with mental illness; and increase affordable housing opportunities for disabled men and women. When the MacDougal Street Apartments officially opened on June 1, it was clear to all in attendance that Concern had fulfilled its promises.

The MacDougal Street Apartments is the first of its kind in New York State to be built by using modular construction techniques. Eighty-four modules were constructed off-site at Capsys Corp.’s manufacturing plant at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and transported to the project site for “stacking” on the building’s foundation. The result: a brand new, six-story building that provides 65 supportive and affordable housing opportunities for low-income individuals recovering from mental illness.

The FHLBNY partnered with its member, Astoria Federal Savings Bank, to award a $967,087 Affordable Housing Program grant to help fund the construction costs for the Apartments. Since 1999, Astoria Federal Savings and the FHLBNY have provided Concern with 10 AHP grants totaling more than $6.3 million to help the group fund the construction of more than 400 affordable homes as it works to better the lives of so many New York residents.

AHP Performance Statistics
(Program totals as of 9/30/12)
•  Projects approved: 1,352
•  Units created: 57,864
•  Subsidies approved: $444,020,445

Paul Héroux, the FHLBNY’s head of Member Services, spoke at the grand opening event: “The vision that was laid out in a vacant lot three years ago is now a reality, to the benefit of both the residents of these apartments and the greater Brooklyn community.”

AHP funds are awarded to members who submit applications on behalf of project sponsors who are planning to purchase, rehabilitate, or construct affordable homes or apartments. Funds are awarded through a competitive process, which typically takes place either once or twice a year, at the FHLBNY’s discretion.

 

Have You Seen “The Power of an Advance” Advertisements?

The FHLBNY’s “The Power of an Advance” advertising campaign is still circulating in select trade publications, emphasizing the unique FHLBNY/member partnership that works together to strengthen local communities.

The advertisements feature Community Lending Program projects within our district that the FHLBNY has helped our member community lenders fund. As the campaign progresses, different members and projects are featured based on the region the publication represents. However, one clear message remains the same, as stated in the opening paragraph of every ad:

One advance can help fund hundreds of neighborhood needs. FHLBNY advances are a reliable liquidity source for our member lenders to finance home mortgage, small business, and economic development activities.

Hopefully you will agree that these advertisements portray the FHLBNY’s mission and differentiate us from our competitors as a unique members only, co-operative structure, while reinforcing the concept that we are an “advances” bank and premier provider of sound and reliable liquidity. Examples from the campaign are shown below.

Become a part of the campaign! To be considered, contact the Community Lending department at (212) 441-6850 with the community development project the FHLBNY helped your institution fund, or e-mail us.

Power of an Advance


Related Links

Latest Issues

Spring 2013
Community Investment News

Fall 2012
Community Investment News