A new program backed by the city and community partner Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) NYC will help nonprofits throughout the city develop affordable housing and community space on their underutilized properties.
The program, called the New York Land Opportunity Program or NYLOP, will provide free assistance to the institutions as they seek to develop their underused properties to benefit the community at large. Participation in NYLOP will come with access to lawyers and architects and help the institutions with issuing requests for proposals so that they can identify and select experienced developers as joint venture partners.
NYLOP is launching with five nonprofit institutions in its first round. All five institutions are faith-based organizations and include The Community Church of New York Unitarian Universalist with property in Murray Hill, Manhattan; St. Luke’s Episcopal Church in The Bronx; Shiloh Church of Christ in Harlem; Wakefield Grace United Methodist Church in the Wakefield neighborhood of The Bronx; and St. John’s Global Ministries near downtown Jamaica, Queens.
“Working with New York City’s community-based organizations, and particularly faith-based leaders, we are finding new ways to turn underutilized lots into modern affordable housing and community spaces that will benefit New Yorkers in need,” Mayor de Blasio said in a statement.
A not insignificant number of New York City’s religious institutions have fallen victim to the city’s development boom, as pricey upkeep, floundering attendance, restrictions from landmark status, and other pretenses lead the institutions to sell their properties or partner with developers to build market rate, often luxury, housing.
“Over the years, we’ve had many inquiries about our property [from developers] who had interest in luxury housing and little concern for affordable housing,” Rev. Bruce Southworth, Senior Minister of the Community Church said. “More recently we began thinking about how we might best use our property to serve our mission.” NYLOP, he says, will finally help them achieve that.
In addition to helping nonprofit institutions bring affordable housing to their neighborhoods, NYLOP will also help the churches create space for crucial community programs.