Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the completion of a 65-unit affordable housing development in East Buffalo. The long-vacant School 75 has been repurposed to offer 47 apartments, including 33 with supportive services for veterans and military service-disabled individuals, and will be home to the new corporate offices for the Western New York Veterans’ Housing Coalition. As part of the project, an additional 12 buildings were constructed throughout the neighborhood and provide 18 affordable units.
The former school building has been dedicated as The Charlie Bush Building in honor of SPC Charles E. Bush, Jr., who was killed in action on December 19, 2003, in Operation Iraqi Freedom. SPC Bush was a food service specialist assigned to the 402nd Civil Affairs Battalion, Tonawanda, N.Y. His awards and decorations include the Bronze Star Medal, the Purple Heart, the Army Service Ribbon, the National Defense Service Medal, and the Army Reserve Components Achievement Medal.
“Ahead of Veterans Day this weekend, we are proud to announce new housing opportunities and services tailored for those who have bravely served our nation and deserve our ongoing support,” Governor Hochul said. “SPC Charlie Bush made the ultimate sacrifice while protecting our country, and by dedicating the building in his honor, his legacy will live on through the countless veterans who will benefit from expanded access to quality housing and resources. Every New Yorker, and especially our veterans, deserves safe and secure housing that meets their needs.”
In the last five years, New York State Homes and Community Renewal has created or preserved 4,600 affordable homes in Buffalo. This project continues this effort and complements Governor Hochul's $25 billion comprehensive Housing Plan to 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.
The adaptive reuse of School 75, which was originally constructed in 1925, preserved historic architectural elements. The new structures were constructed on vacant parcels at scattered locations throughout the neighborhood.
All 65 homes are affordable to households with incomes at or below 60 percent of the Area Median Income. Twenty households will receive on-site supportive services and rental subsidies funded through the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative and administered by the NYS Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. An additional thirteen households will receive U.S. Housing and Urban Development Continuum of Care rental subsidies through Erie County.
The co-developers are the Western New York Veterans' Housing Coalition and Norstar Development USA, L.P. WNYVHC is also the service provider.
State financing for the $29 million development included $15.8 million in Federal and State Low Income Housing Tax Credits and $4.7 million in subsidy from New York State Homes and Community Renewal. The New York State Department of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation awarded Federal and State Historic Tax Credits which generated more than $6.7 million in equity. The New York State Energy and Research Development Authority is providing $72,000 through its Low-Rise New Construction program. The city of Buffalo provided $850,000 through the HOME program.
New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Veterans Day is a time to express our gratitude to the individuals who’ve bravely served our nation and renew our commitment to ensuring that New York’s veterans have a comfortable, safe, and secure place to live. The Charlie Bush Building is providing 33 homes for veterans and their families with access to the support they need to thrive, as well as a new home for the WNY Veterans Housing Coalition to better serve the community. This neighborhood-wide rehabilitation effort also furthers the state’s ongoing investment in creating more housing opportunities and enhancing quality of life in East Buffalo. Congratulations to all who played a role in this impactful development.”
New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Acting Commissioner Barbara C. Guinn said, “Governor Hochul continues to take action to increase the supply of supportive and affordable housing across the state because she understands how critical this housing is for the communities where it is located and for the lives of those who have experienced homelessness. The Charlie Bush Building will provide much-needed supportive housing for veterans who have experienced homelessness, enabling them to have a safe, affordable place to live where they can easily access supportive services to help stabilize their lives.”
NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen Harris said, “NYSERDA is proud to support the redevelopment of The Charlie Bush building, which demonstrates how spaces can be adapted to provide New Yorkers access to the latest in Energy Star appliances, and high-performance space conditioning equipment, windows and insulation. Projects like The Charlie Bush will help residents manage energy use with new, efficient features that can lead to tangible electricity bill savings, improve indoor comfort, and contribute to a better quality of life for military veterans in the community.”
New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Erik Kulleseid said, “Creating affordable homes for New Yorkers is an important issue throughout the state. Here in Buffalo, communities are utilizing federal and state historic tax credits to reinvest in their existing infrastructure and it is yielding remarkable results. Public School 75 served generations of East Buffalo residents and now it has a renewed purpose. Turning a once vacant building into new homes transforms neighborhoods and reminds us that collaboration and investment can make all sorts of things possible. We are glad to be part of these efforts.”
Representative Brian Higgins said, “In Western New York and beyond we are experiencing a housing crisis and veterans are often particularly vulnerable. As a country we’ve made a promise to care for those who served and that means ensuring they have access to quality, affordable housing. Thanks to federal and state funding we will revitalize existing buildings and add new construction in East Buffalo to provide veterans with safe and affordable places to call home, aptly named in honor of Western New York’s own SPC Charles E. Bush, Jr."
State Senator Tim Kennedy said, "This project not only breathes new life into the former School 75, but it does so intentionally - addressing the gap in affordable housing head on, while simultaneously connecting our veterans with the services and resources they deserve to live whole and healthy lives. New York continues to support transformative opportunities like this project because we believe in the impact they have on improving quality of life and fostering a deeper sense of community."
Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, “Congratulations to the WNY Veterans Housing Coalition and Norstar Development USA on the completion of 65 housing units on Buffalo’s East Side. Beyond the redevelopment of vacant Public School #75, 12 vacant parcels were identified for new infill construction to further increase neighborhood density. This project has been many years and many community meetings in the making. I’d like to thank HCR, OTDA, NYSERDA and SHPO for the financial assistance to make this project a reality.”
City of Buffalo Mayor Byron W. Brown said, “I thank Governor Kathy Hochul and Homes and Community Renewal team for their partnership in our continuing mission to boost affordable housing in our city. This project utilizes more than two dozen city-owned vacant lots. This project will not only help residents who need affordable housing, but it will also help provide local veterans with the services they need to improve their lives.”
Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said, “Affordable housing is a critical need in Erie County and this project addresses that need head on, providing veterans and military-service disabled personnel with the supports and assistance they need. The Charlie Bush Building is also a terrific reuse of an older building, transforming a disused space into an attractive community hub that all can be proud of. Projects like this help county residents, and in this case veterans, live and thrive in their communities."
WNY Veterans Housing Coalition President & CEO Gigi Grizanti Cooke said, "We are so proud to be hosting the grand opening of this beautifully repurposed historic building, but equally as proud to be dedicating this building in memory of SFC Charles Bush Junior, who grew up in Buffalo, and sadly lost his life, serving his country in Iraqi Freedom."