La Plaza de Virginia Rendering
March 29, 2023

Governor Hochul Announces Completion of $17 Million Affordable Mixed-Use Housing Development for Seniors in Buffalo

Governor Hochul Announces Completion of $17 Million Affordable Mixed-Use Housing Development for Seniors in Buffalo
La Plaza de Virginia Offers 46 Affordable and Supportive Homes for Seniors with Community Senior Service Center, Café, and Health Resources

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the completion of La Plaza de Virginia, a $17 million mixed-use housing development that provides 46 affordable and supportive homes for seniors in Buffalo. The newly constructed development on the city's west side also features a restaurant and a community service facility that will house a recreational adult day program open to the public.

"La Plaza de Virginia provides seniors a safe, stable and affordable home with access to an array of resources that will help them live healthy and independent lives," Governor Hochul said. "This development is another important investment by the State to help strengthen Buffalo's neighborhoods, support the city's ongoing revitalization efforts and provide our most vulnerable residents with the housing options they need to thrive."

Today's announcement complements Governor. Hochul's Housing Compact, a multi-faceted strategy designed to address New York's historic housing shortage by building 800,000 new homes over the next decade. The Housing Compact will encourage growth by removing barriers to housing production, incentivizing new construction, and setting local housing targets across every community. The Housing Compact follows last year's launch of the Governor's $25 billion comprehensive Housing Plan that will create or preserve 100,000 affordable homes across New York including 10,000 with support services for vulnerable populations, plus the electrification of an additional 50,000 homes.

Located at 254 Virginia Street, La Plaza de Virginia fills a long vacant, dilapidated site with a three-story building which includes 46 one-bedroom apartments, all affordable for senior households with incomes at or below 60 percent of the Area Median Income.

Fourteen apartments are set aside for formerly homeless seniors who will receive onsite supportive services funded through the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI) and administered by the New York State Department of Health. Support services include comprehensive care management, substance use and mental health support, counseling, medication self-management, health care coordination, advocacy, recreation, educational and training workshops, as well as referrals and linkage to community-based services.

In addition to the site's restaurant, which will serve Puerto Rican food, residents can enjoy a 4,000 square foot communal courtyard, lounge, and laundry rooms on each floor. La Plaza de Virginia has been constructed to meet Enterprise Green Communities standards and all apartments will utilize Energy Star appliances. La Plaza de Virginia's developer is Hispanos Unidos de Buffalo (HUB), a Buffalo-based multi-service nonprofit that is an affiliate of the Acacia Network. Supportive services will be provided through Acacia Network.

State financing for La Plaza de Virginia included federal and state Low-Income Housing Tax Credits that will generate $10.6 million in equity and $3.1 million in subsidy from HCR. Empire State Development provided a $1.9 million loan through the Better Buffalo Fund. The New York State Energy Research and Development Authority also provided $46,000 through its Low-Rise Residential New Construction Program. The city of Buffalo's Urban Renewal Agency is providing $950,000. The New York State Assembly provided $600,000 in capital funding through the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY).

In the last five years, New York State Homes and Community Renewal has invested nearly $250 million in the city of Buffalo that has created or preserved nearly 2,500 affordable homes.

New York State Division of Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Guided by Governor Hochul's leadership and focus on improving affordability and enhancing communities, HCR is investing in neighborhood revitalization efforts across Buffalo through the development of affordable housing. The opening of La Plaza de Virginia has replaced a vacant, dilapidated building with a newly constructed mixed-use complex that will serve as a safe, stable home for 46 seniors, with supportive services for those who need them. We are grateful to our partners at the Empire State Development, NYSERDA, the New York State Department of Health, Acacia, and HUB for their work in completing this remarkable development."

Empire State Development CEO, President and Commissioner Hope Knight said, "La Plaza de Virginia, which will help address the growing need for low-income senior housing, supports Governor Hochul's strong commitment to making New York State a more equitable place to live. We're proud to support this exciting project, with a $1.9 million loan from the Better Buffalo Fund program, and to further that program's goals to improve quality of life and transform Buffalo's neighborhoods."

New York State Energy Research and Development President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, "The completion of La Plaza de Virginia means Buffalo seniors have expanded access to affordable, energy-efficient housing which includes high-performance appliances. Climate-friendly projects like this are creating a healthier building stock while including the most vulnerable New Yorkers in the clean-energy transition."

Acting New York State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said, "The La Plaza de Virginia Senior Apartments is another example of how all New Yorkers should have access to safe and affordable housing, and these senior supportive housing apartments will not only improve residents' overall health, but will allow them to remain in and active with their community. I thank Governor Hochul for her steadfast dedication to the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative which has enabled people to move from homelessness to safe housing in their neighborhood."

New York State Secretary of State Robert J. Rodriguez said, "Creating more affordable housing opportunities is critical to helping New York's residents and communities thrive. The completion of La Plaza de Virginia is years in the making and a huge win for our older adults in the City of Buffalo. In addition to the creation of 46 new affordable and sustainable homes, La Plaza de Virginia provides a community where seniors can age in place with independence, dignity and the opportunity to access educational and wellness services. Collectively, this strengthens and enhances the Buffalo community for decades to come."

Representative Brian Higgins said, "This project, led by Hispanos Unidos de Buffalo, demonstrates the importance of federal low income housing tax credits and brings new affordable senior living and a community gathering destination to the West Side. This new home for Buffalo residents is ideally situated in a neighborhood undergoing a vibrant renewal thanks to a $42 million federal investment in nearby Niagara Street and is blocks away from Ralph Wilson Centennial Park, which undergoing a transformation thanks to foundation and federal investments."

State Senator Tim Kennedy said, "By investing in affordable housing, especially for our seniors, New York is continuing to create new opportunities for accessibility, supportive services, and community-centered spaces. This project was a true collaboration between Hispanos Unidos de Buffalo and federal, state, and city partners, and I'm thrilled to see La Plaza de Virginia open its doors to the community."

Assemblymember Jon D. Rivera said, "La Plaza de Virginia's 46-unit mixed-use housing complex on Virginia St., will represent a much-needed investment in our area's senior population. At this location, HUB will continue its long legacy of providing an array of services and amenities dedicated to our aging community. I'm proud that this project will demonstrate further proof of New York State's commitment to providing modern, affordable housing for the most vulnerable within our communities."

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said, "This project helped capture the vision of what current residents of the neighborhood were seeking with an attractive structure that fills a need in the community. Providing affordable and supportive housing for senior citizens is the latest in the series of investments the state has made in helping to create a vibrant living space for some of our most vulnerable residents in the City of Buffalo."

President of Acacia Network Raul Russi said, "Acacia Network is proud of the amazing team effort and tenacity that was required to bring this project to fruition in the heart of Buffalo near the main campus of our affiliate, Hispanos Unidos de Buffalo (HUB). As a Puerto Rican-born Buffalonian who served the City of Buffalo and the State of New York for many decades prior to my nonprofit services career, La Plaza de Virginia is a reflection of our commitment to creating pathways to opportunity and stability for our most vulnerable neighbors, so they can remain in the communities they call home."

CEO of Acacia Network Lymaris Albors said, "Through La Plaza de Virginia, Acacia Network is thrilled to add 46 units of much-needed housing to our robust portfolio, which already consists of more than 4,000 units of affordable and supportive housing throughout New York State. This project serves as a testament to the incredible results that can be accomplished when minority, nonprofit affordable housing developers come together with public and private partners to develop mission-driven projects that respond to the needs of our communities."

Executive Director of HUB Eugenio "Geno" Russi said, "La Plaza de Virginia will fill a tremendous need for affordable senior housing within a neighborhood that has long served as the main campus for Hispanos Unidos de Buffalo, which already offers robust programming for vulnerable older adults in this community. We thank our staff, our board, and our partners and funders -including Governor Hochul and the State of New York, the City of Buffalo and Mayor Byron Brown, as well as former Assembly Members Sean Ryan and Jonathan Rivera- for making this project possible, and look forward to continuing to serve our communities for decades to come."