Grace Brown House
July 21, 2022

Governor Hochul Announces Completion of $7.7 Million Supportive Housing Development in Cortland County

Governor Hochul Announces Completion of $7.7 Million Supportive Housing Development in Cortland County
Grace Brown House Offers 25 Units of Supportive Housing for Survivors of Domestic Violence Experiencing Homelessness
Project Part of "CNY Rising" - the Region's Comprehensive Strategy to Revitalize Communities and Grow the Economy

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the completion of Grace Brown House, a $7.7 million permanent supportive housing project in Cortland County. Financed through funding from the state Homes and Community Renewal and state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance, the project created 25 units of supportive housing for domestic violence survivors and their families who are at risk of experiencing homelessness. 

"All too often, the survivors of domestic violence find themselves facing housing instability as a direct result of their ordeal," Governor Hochul said. "Grace Brown House will provide stable homes and critical services for these survivors and their and families, which in turn will help Central New York communities confront the root causes of homelessness." 

"Supportive housing provides a caring and supportive alternative to homelessness where survivors of domestic violence can not only live but also receive needed services," said Lieutenant Governor Antonio Delgado. "The 25 units at Grace Brown House in Cortland County will provide a safe haven for victims of domestic violence and help get them on the road to recovery."

Developed by Christopher Community, Inc., the three-story structure includes 18 one-bedroom and seven two-bedroom apartments, with all units reserved for individuals or families experiencing homelessness or housing insecurity. The YWCA of Cortland is providing supportive services -including case management, legal, educational, and vocational services -via operating funding through the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative, which is being administered by the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. 

The development was named in honor of Grace Brown, who moved to Cortland in search of a better life during the early 20th century but was instead murdered by an intimate partner. Her tragic story attracted national attention and galvanized awareness over domestic violence. 

Grace Brown House was funded with an allocation of federal low-income housing tax credits that will generate about $4.6 million in equity and $365,000 in subsidy from Homes and Community Renewal. The project also received $1.9 million through the Homeless Housing and Assistance Program, which is administered by the state Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance. 

In addition, the development received $500,000 through the Federal Home Loan Bank, and, $25,000 through the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. All apartments are affordable to households earning at or below 50 percent of the area median income.  

Located close to public transportation lines, the development includes two apartments adapted to be fully accessible for individuals with mobility impairments and two units fully accessible for individuals with hearing or vision impairments. Building amenities will include a community room, a children's play area, common laundry facilities, a computer lab, property manager and supportive services staff offices, an outdoor patio, and a playground.  

Grace Brown House complements Governor Hochul's ambitious statewide plan to make housing more affordable, equitable, and stable throughout New York. In the recently enacted State Budget, the Governor successfully secured a new $25 billion, five-year, comprehensive housing plan that will increase housing supply by creating or preserving 100,000 affordable homes across the state, including 10,000 with support services for vulnerable populations,

The project also builds on the Governor's overall strategy to revitalize communities and grow the economy across the state, including "Central NY Rising," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. Since 2011, New York State Homes and Community Renewal has invested $296 million in the Central New York region to create or preserve more than 4,000 affordable homes.

Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance Commissioner Daniel W. Tietz said, "Domestic violence survivors often suffer lasting trauma from their abuse, and this emotional upheaval can ultimately result in them experiencing housing instability. The permanent supportive housing offered by Grace Brown House is filling an unmet need in Cortland County, while providing stability for survivors in Central New York. This project, like many others supported by the Homeless Housing and Assistance Program, demonstrates Governor Hochul's true resolve to ensure stable housing is both inclusive and equitable for all New Yorkers."

Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Every New Yorker deserves a safe place to call home, and Grace Brown House will provide that and much more for 25 households. Along with supportive services, the development's energy-efficient building and family-friendly amenities will offer a comfortable environment for residents to heal and move forward. Thank you to OTDA, the YWCA and Christopher Community for their partnership in completing this life-changing development, and to Governor Hochul for her commitment to increasing the supply of affordable, supportive housing in Central New York and across the state."

Office for the Prevention of Domestic Violence Director Kelli Nicholas-Owens said, "Without safe and affordable housing, many victims of domestic violence have to make the impossible choice to either stay with their abusive partner or face homelessness. As New York State transforms systems to be more survivor-centered, trauma-informed, and culturally responsive, we are reframing services and prioritizing permanent housing solutions to stabilize families impacted by the many forms of abuse. The Grace Brown House honors survivors who need support right now by providing permanent, supportive housing units. I am proud to serve a Governor who prioritizes safe and stable housing for the most vulnerable populations, including victims and survivors of gender-based violence."

Assemblymember Anna R. Kelles said, "I am thrilled to celebrate the Grand Opening of Grace Brown House and the partnership between the City of Cortland, the town of Cortlandville, Cortland County, Christopher Community and the YWCA that has brought this project to fruition. Cortland County, like so many places in New York, is in great need of affordable and supportive housing. It's our job to increase housing in all brackets, especially below 50 percent AMI. This building addresses a critical piece of the puzzle as we work to ensure that everyone in our community has access to safe and affordable housing. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated domestic violence and it is so important that we create safe havens where people not only have a stable safe home but also access to wrap-around services. The Grace Brown House will provide 25 families with housing as well as critically important child care, mental health support, job training, and most importantly, an environment of healing and empowerment."

YWCA of Cortland Executive Director Kelly Tobin said, "The YWCA Cortland has operated emergency housing services for over 40 years watching the need for affordable housing continue to grow in the Cortland Community. The Grace Brown House will extend the offerings for clients eliminating the barrier to safe, affordable, and quality housing.  We are excited to bring this project to the community and to the Aid to Victims of Violence program as an extension of our comprehensive services we can offer survivors of Domestic Violence."

Accelerating CNY Rising

Grace Brown House complements "CNY Rising," the region's comprehensive blueprint to generate robust economic growth and community development. The regionally designed plan focuses on capitalizing on global market opportunities, strengthening entrepreneurship and creating an inclusive economy. The region is accelerating CNY Rising with a $500 million investment through the Upstate Revitalization Initiative, which will incentivize private business to invest more than $2.5 billion. The region's plan, as submitted, projects up to 5,900 new jobs.