Energy Grant Only Part of This Affordable Housing Story

CDC of Long Island has announced it has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the National Grid Green Cinderella program.

By Jeffrey Steele, Contributing Writer

Hempstead, N.Y.—CDC of Long Island has announced it has been awarded a $25,000 grant from the National Grid Green Cinderella program. The community development program provides grants to projects that spur energy efficiency and conservation and that showcase environmentally friendly energy technologies.

The grant will go toward energy-efficient improvements undertaken by CDC of Long Island at Twin Oaks, a 94-unit affordable rental community in Hempstead, N.Y., that the organization is rehabilitating. However, the grant is only one aspect of the inspirational story of the repurposing and renovation of Twin Oaks.

CDC of Long Island is a 41-year-old regional non-profit that seeks to enhance quality of life on Long Island through investments to help families and small businesses. “One strategy for our investments is to build multifamily housing for families and senior citizens,” president and CEO Marianne Garvin tells MHN.

“There is a lack of rental housing on Long Island for both populations. We develop for-sale housing as well, but more and more of our focus is on rental housing, simply because of the need . . . Our work goes toward repurposing older buildings, removing blight and redeveloping blighted areas. There are definitely pockets of blight all over the island, and as long as one of our strategies is increasing the supply of multifamily housing, we might as well at the same time be addressing the issue of blight.”

Twin Oaks consists of two U-shaped buildings facing one another across a courtyard. Built decades ago, it was first an apartment complex, and later was purchased by Hofstra University to be used as off-campus graduate student housing. The university’s more recent decision to consolidate all student housing on its campus left the buildings vacant and, Garvin says, “allowed us to negotiate a purchase from Hofstra, and put together a financing package to redevelop the buildings as workforce housing.”

CDC of Long Island applied for the Green Cinderella grant in September, and soon after was notified it had been awarded the $25,000. “That grant will be used for energy efficiency upgrades to the heating and hot water systems in the building,” Garvin says. “That obviously helps us deliver a more green building, and a more energy-efficient building, both of which were among our goals.”

One of the buildings is fully renovated; the second building’s renovation will be completed by early February. Both buildings are expected to be 100 percent leased by mid-winter. Twin Oaks renters will be from the workforce population, earning 60 percent or less of Area Median Income (AMI), Garvin says

“It’s been very well received,” she adds of the rehabilitation of Twin Oaks. “There was a lot of excitement over the fact that there were a lot of construction jobs for local people, and now workforce housing for local people. The immediate community is excited as well, because the buildings are no longer vacant, they look beautiful, and they are going to be beautifully landscaped with a courtyard that will be a resident focal point.”

To finance the redevelopment, CDC of Long Island used HOME program funds, and leveraged the federal low-income housing tax credit program. CDC of Long Island is a NeighborWorks America organization, and as such is one of the chartered members of a national network of non-profit organizations in every state that benefit from federal funds distributed by NeighborWorks.

“The capital can be used at the discretion of the non-profits,” Garvin says, adding CDC of Long Island invested $500,000 from NeighborWorks in Twin Oaks.

Now that the repurposing and rehabilitation of Twin Oaks is nearly complete, Garvin reports she and her colleagues are gratified to have been part of an effort that generated so many benefits. “CDC of Long Island is thrilled to be a new neighbor in Hempstead Village,” she says.

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