Ribbon Cutting Olympic Ave 2
May 29, 2024

Governor Hochul Announces Completion of New $19 Million Affordable Housing Development in East Buffalo

Governor Hochul Announces Completion of New $19 Million Affordable Housing Development in East Buffalo
Olympic Avenue Apartments Transformed Vacant School Into Affordable Homes
Includes Energy-Efficient Features; Free Broadband Internet

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the completion of rehabilitation work at East Buffalo's former Public School 78, transforming the vacant building into 46 affordable apartments and space for community programs and services. All of the homes in the $19 million Olympic Avenue Apartments development will be available to low-income households, with eight of the units set aside for disabled individuals who will have access to on-site support services. Governor Hochul broke ground on the project in 2022.

“This project exemplifies New York’s creativity in transforming underutilized properties into much-needed homes,” Governor Hochul said. “Our ongoing investments in East Buffalo are improving affordability, strengthening our communities and increasing housing opportunities for all.” 

In the last five years, New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) has created or preserved 7,500 affordable homes in Buffalo. Olympic Avenue Apartments continues this effort and is part of Governor Hochul'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

Olympic Avenue Apartments complements the State’s ongoing commitment to addressing the vital needs of the East Buffalo community following the racially motivated terror attack at Tops Supermarket on May 14, 2022. 

The project includes 43 one-bedroom and three two-bedroom apartments, with eight of those units specially constructed to accommodate individuals with physical disabilities. All apartments are affordable to households earning at or below 60 percent of the Area Median Income.

The rehabilitation features energy-efficient upgrades such as a green roof, new electrical systems, fuel-efficient heating and cooling, an updated stormwater system, and new windows. Each apartment was equipped with all Energy Star® or equivalent appliances, energy-efficient lighting, and water-saving plumbing fixtures.

The project also includes quality-of-life improvements that benefit the whole community and make the surrounding area more inviting, including new sidewalks, lighting, a playground and native landscaping and a community garden. The project's historic preservation initiatives included restoration of brick and stone masonry; repair of historic windows, the decorative metal railing, and interior plasterwork; and removal of suspended ceilings to reveal their historic height. The development will provide free internet, helping to bridge the digital divide among low-income communities.

Built in 1927, PS 78 is listed on both the State and National Registers of Historic Places, and most recently housed a Montessori School. As part of this development, the school's auditorium was transformed into a community center where local nonprofits will provide services and programs targeted to low-income residents and community members.

The project is supported by HCR’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit program that will generate $9.6 million in equity, as well as a $2.4 million investment from HCR’s Housing Trust Fund. The New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation has facilitated the use of Federal and State Historic Rehabilitation Tax Credits that are estimated to provide $2.75 million in equity. U.S. Housing and Urban Development invested $750,000 from its federal Housing Trust Fund, Empire State Development awarded $500,000 from the Better Buffalo Fund, and the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority (NYSERDA) provided $46,000 through the Low-rise New Construction Program in support.

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Tackling the housing crisis takes creative solutions and this investment shows that housing can be developed in both traditional and non-traditional spaces. PS 78 was a cornerstone for the neighboring community and now it will continue to benefit the community for years to come by offering more than 40 families and individuals a modern, secure place to live. We thank Governor Hochul for continuing to prioritize the creation of new housing opportunities in places like East Buffalo, and we’re grateful to all of our partners who made this innovative development a reality.”

NYSERDA President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, “The Olympic Avenue Apartments project shows how New York's aging, and sometimes vacant, buildings can be redeveloped into modern, comfortable, and affordable housing. NYSERDA is proud to support projects that incorporate energy efficient heating and cooling and energy saving appliances to provide healthier living spaces for underserved New Yorkers.”

New York State Office of Parks, Recreation and Historic Preservation Commissioner Pro Tempore Randy Simons said, “This historic school was part of an initiative in the City of Buffalo over one hundred years ago to address the needs of the community. Today it has been transformed through this collaborative rehabilitation project that offers dignified, affordable housing for residents; looks to the future with sustainability goals; and preserves the craftsmanship of this historic neighborhood asset. We’re proud to partner on projects like this and work with developers to utilize resources like the historic rehabilitation tax credit program to make these impactful projects possible here in Buffalo and throughout the state.”

Empire State Development President, CEO and Commissioner Hope Knight said, “Addressing New York State's housing crisis has been a top priority of Governor Hochul's administration, and today's completion of the Olympic Avenue Apartments further supports the overall transformation of East Buffalo by providing much needed housing for low-income families. This project is an example of the positive progress being generated by Governor Hochul’s leadership, the dedication of our partners in State and local government, and the hard work of the site developers, community members and advocates who transformed a vacant building into an innovative mixed-use development that meets the needs of the East Buffalo community.”

Assembly Majority Leader Crystal Peoples-Stokes said, “Congratulations to CDS Housing and its development and construction team on completing the CDS Olympic Avenue Apartments. I applaud the neighborhood residents for their active participation in the multiple community meetings to help the overall affordable housing project design. Without the support of Gov. Hochul, and state agencies like Div. of Housing & Community Renewal and Office of State Parks, Recreation & Historic Preservation, stabilizing and redeveloping major community anchors in neighborhoods like this across the state would not happen.” 

Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz said, “Affordable housing is a critical need in Erie County and the completion of the Olympic Avenue Apartments is great news, adding much-needed living spaces for low-income households and individuals with disabilities. The reuse of the former Public School 78 for this project transformed that disused building into modern, energy-efficient apartments with an improved streetscape that adds to the neighborhood quality of life as well. I thank Governor Hochul for her focus on the affordable housing issue and for working to create more such housing here in Erie County.” 

Andrew Sewnauth, CEO of CDS Life Transitions and Executive Director of CDS Monarch said, “CDS Monarch saw that there was a great need in the Buffalo community for affordable multifamily and supportive housing and we set out to meet that need. Our response can be found here in Olympic Avenue Apartments, a modern, affordable, Wi-Fi enabled, and safe housing development that promotes a vibrant, walkable, mixed-use community close to public transportation. We are grateful to state and local government officials for their support, and we look forward to the opportunity to serve more members of the Buffalo community and across the state.”