NYC-based Program Helping to Revitalize Under-Resourced Neighborhood through Combination of Education, Youth Programs, Affordable Housing, Job Opportunities and Other Community Initiatives.
Mutual of America announced today that East Harlem Center for Living and Learning received this year’s Governor Hugh L. Carey Award, presented annually to the national award-winning program in its 2016 Community Partnership Award competition.
In 1991, Harlem RBI was founded to provide inner-city children with opportunities to play, learn and grow through after-school and summer enrichment programs. Twenty years later, in 2011, it forged a unique partnership with Jonathan Rose Companies, a New York-based real estate company dedicated to revitalizing city neighborhoods and creating communities of opportunity, along with the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), to create this innovative community initiative.
East Harlem Center for Living and Learning opened in 2015 and includes a 450-seat public charter school, with 50% of kindergarten seats reserved for students living in NYCHA residences; after-school and summer program space serving more than 1,800 kids each year; 89 units of affordable housing; a revitalized public park and community space; and ongoing job opportunities for local residents and youth.
“Since 2005, 97% of Harlem RBI seniors have graduated high school, 99% have avoided teen pregnancy and 94% have been accepted to college,” said Richard Berlin, Executive Director. “By linking baseball, education and social services, the East Harlem Center for Living and Learning is building a community invested in its own future. It’s a model that we hope will inspire other under-resourced neighborhoods do the same.”
“The East Harlem Center for Living and Learning is a model of public, private, and community cooperation that provides three critical aspects to enhance opportunity for its neighborhood,” said Jonathan F.P. Rose, founder of Jonathan Rose Companies. “These include green affordable housing, which provides families with a safe, stable base; an extraordinary school to prepare the community’s children for the opportunities and challenges of the 21st Century; and a rehabilitated park that provides families access to nature and recreation.”
About the Mutual of America Community Partnership Award
The Mutual of America Community Partnership Award annually honors the outstanding contributions that nonprofit organizations, in partnership with public, private and other social sector organizations, make to society. Since 1996, the Community Partnership Award has recognized 210 partnerships from cities and towns across America. To watch videos of all of the national award-winning programs, visit the official YouTube channel for the Mutual of America Foundation Community Partnership Award.
“All of the 2016 honorees are leaders in society, creating innovative and effective solutions to help those in need,” said John R. Greed, President and CEO of Mutual of America. “Through the Community Partnership Award, Mutual of America is proud to recognize, support and help extend the reach of these vital partnerships.”
East Harlem Center for Living and Learning is a multifamily, mixed-use building at Washington Houses that includes:
A K-8 public charter school
Office and program space for Harlem RBI
88 affordable housing units for low-income households
A newly renovated Blake Hobbs public park
The building participates in NYSERDA’s Multifamily Performance Program and was built according to Enterprise Green Communities criteria, the national standard for green building in affordable housing. It is expected to receive the Gold Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) rating for its green building design and construction. Sustainable elements of the development include energy efficient boilers, low VOC paint, low “e” windows, and use of low-emitting, recycled, and locally-produced materials. The site is easily accessible to public transportation, with the M15 2nd Avenue bus and Lexington Avenue subway immediately accessible.
The school features a full chef’s kitchen, a new “gymnatorium” made largely from repurposed wood, and an outdoors space with a garden. The 11-story affordable housing complex totals 80,000-square-feet and consists of 18 studios, 41 one-bedroom units, 25 two-bedroom units, and four three-bedroom units. It includes an exercise room, bike storage room, computer room, social service office, laundry facilities, and a landscaped terrace. Units have been designated for low-income households earning less than 60 percent of the area median income (AMI), which is affordable to individuals earning no more than $36,120 and $46,440 for a family of three. Income levels are calculated annually by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). The above incomes are set according to HUD’s 2014 calculations.
The total development cost for the facility was approximately $84 million, with $46.5 million in funding for the school and program office space, and $26.7 million in funding for the Yoro Tomo Apartments. The complete project was financed through private and public funding. The school, office space, and park were financed through a $32.5 million grant from the School Construction Authority’s Charter Facilities Matching Grant Program and $20 million raised by Harlem RBI. Mark Teixeira pledged $1 million in 2011 toward the Capital Campaign and launched DreamTeam 25, his personal campaign to help raise the additional $20 million needed to complete the project.
The affordable housing portion was financed through a $13.5 million first mortgage and a $5.7 million second mortgage from HDC, a $6.2 million loan from HPD, $750,000 in Reso A funding from City Council Speaker Melissa Mark-Viverito, and a $142,654 NYSERDA grant. Additionally, Enterprise provided $10.5 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credit equity, sourced by JP Morgan Capital Corporation. Enterprise also provided a $2.1 million predevelopment loan. Chase provided a $13.6 million standby letter of credit to support the construction of this project.
The affordable housing units have been rented through NYC Housing Connect, an Open Lottery System to ensure fair and equitable distribution of housing to income-eligible applicants.