Westhab, the Yonkers-based nonprofit founded in 1981 to help deal with the lack of affordable housing in Westchester, held a groundbreaking ceremony Dec. 11 for Dayspring Commons, a 63-unit apartment building, part of its Dayspring Campus project. The building’s site is at 227 Elm St.
Westhab reports that it has developed more than 900 units of housing in Westchester and New York City, representing investments totaling more than $134 million. It is involved in all aspects of its projects, from site selection, financing, construction supervision and property management to providing needed social services for its low income, moderate income and special needs tenants.
Dayspring Campus is estimated by Westhab to be a $45 million project. The residential building will have 63 affordable apartments, 37 of which are to be reserved for formerly homeless people who will receive onsite support services. As part of the Dayspring Campus, the former Good Shepherd Presbyterian Church is being transformed into a state-of-the-art 27,400-square-foot community center. The former church building is located at 320 Walnut St.
Westhab has been providing services in the Nodine Hill section of Yonkers since the mid-1990s when it bought five buildings on Elm Street that were in need of repair and better management. It began an initiative to help small-business owners in the neighborhood and in 2006 opened the Elm Street Youth Center in part of the church. In 2008, it developed the Elm Street Community Resource Center. In 2015, when the church was being forced to shutter the building due to a financial crisis, it offered to sell the building to Westhab for a nominal fee and support an effort to turn it into a full-service community center.
Fundraising efforts by Westhab along with government funding have combined to bring about the financing needed for the project. State financing includes $7.1 million in permanent tax-exempt bonds, federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits that will generate $15.2 million in equity and a $13.5 million subsidy from New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR).
The city of Yonkers has provided $1 million for the project. It’s expected there will be ongoing subsidies and other funding from the state to help support needed services for residents.
The six-story Dayspring Commons building will include a mix of one-bedroom, two-bedroom and three-bedroom apartments. Amenities will include a community room, exercise room, laundry room, outdoor landscaped seating area, covered garage and security office.
Fifteen of the apartments will be reserved for households earning at or below 30% of the area median income (AMI). Most of the others will be available to those at or below 50% of the AMI.
Young parents with children who have special needs will be among those accepted for the 37 apartments reserved for homeless families. They will receive supportive services funded by the New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance through the Governor’s Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative. Westhab will provide case management along with mental health services and employment services.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo did not attend the groundbreaking, but issued a statement calling Dayspring Campus “a strategic investment in the city of Yonkers that will create more affordable housing, reduce homelessness and further economic development in the city’s downtown.” He said that he expected the project to help the southwest Yonkers community grow and thrive.
Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano said, “Yonkers is committed to providing quality, affordable housing as well as robust amenity and supportive services to our most underserved residents. Dayspring Commons will provide a 360-approach in assisting these individuals and become a hub for the local community.”
HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas saw distinct benefits in building the residential structure adjacent to the community center. “Dayspring Commons will offer 63 households the opportunity to live in a beautiful new building with easy access to child care, continuing education and employment services at the Dayspring Community Center next door,” she said. “Formerly homeless families will have the support they need to get back on their feet and achieve independence.”
Westhab’s President and CEO Richard Nightingale characterized the project as being “transformative for the Nodine Hill neighborhood of Yonkers. Dayspring is the result of many years of community development and will be the biggest investment in this community in a generation,” he said. “Dayspring will be both a central community anchor and a catalyst for continued community development.”