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Tompkins County Awarded $900,000 to Support Affordable Housing

TOMPKINS COUNTY—Attorney General Letitia James announced that Tompkins County received a grant of $900,000 in the second round of the “Community Land Trusts Capacity Building Initiative,” which acquires and renovates distressed properties, provides training and technical assistance to homeowners, and creates permanent affordable housing for the benefit of low- and middle-income families.

“By providing Tompkins County with this grant, we are opening the doors to solutions for a problem that affects many families and individuals: the lack of safe, decent, and affordable housing opportunities,” said Attorney General James. “Our mission is to help communities develop solutions that meet local housing needs and revitalize neighborhoods.”

The grant provided is a continuation of the 2017 Community Land Trust Initiative, a program created by the Office of the New York Attorney General and Enterprise Community Partners to support the formation of six community land trusts in the state. This program also led to the creation of a CLT Learning Exchange comprised of nine community-based organizations (CBOs), to address housing challenges, especially vacancy and blight, and to develop and promote new models of community ownership of affordable housing and community spaces.

“Enterprise is excited to provide this second round of funding to catalyze new Community Land Trusts and strengthen existing ones,” said Enterprise Community Partners Vice President and New York Market Leader Judi Kende. “CLTs give neighborhood residents the power to decrease displacement, ensure permanent affordability, and, most importantly, make decisions about development in their own communities. This round of funding will deepen that work by supporting even more CLTs and expanding opportunities for local stakeholders to play an active role in revitalizing and preserving communities across New York.”

In Tompkins County, the Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services CLT was awarded $900,000 grant and plans to use these funds to support two developments that will result in the creation of 18 new affordable homes, as well as establish working capital revolving funds to be used for land acquisition. The Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services CLT will also use this grant for outreach to educate and engage potential homebuyers for homes on the CLT.

"Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services (INHS) is honored to be one of the Community Land Trust (CLT) programs awarded financing from the CLT Capacity Building Initiative,” said INHS Executive Director Johanna Anderson. “Over the last decade INHS has helped 52 low to moderate income families achieve the dream of homeownership through its CLT program. This infusion of funding will allow INHS to, significantly, increase the number of affordable, quality, homes it can provide in Tompkins County. We are grateful to the NYS Office of the Attorney General and Enterprise Community Partners for investing in this exciting project and helping INHS to expand affordable housing in the region.”

"INHS gave me the tools and support I needed to buy my first house. I never thought I'd own a home, and I'm so thankful they walked me through the process,” said Leslie Benjamin, a CLT resident. “To own my own home feels like I have a bigger place in the world, and that I'm a part of the community in a way I wasn't before. I value that INHS and its partners support the under served population, and they go out of their way to support the community. I thank New York Attorney General Letitia James and Enterprise Community Partners for their commitment to this issue."

“The high cost of housing is one of the biggest challenges facing Ithaca today,” said Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick. “I am proud that residents of Ithaca and Tompkins County will now have a fair chance at homeownership, which is key to the long-term stability and the wellbeing of our community. Through the Community Housing Trust, these homes will remain affordable for residents today and in generations to come. I thank Attorney General James and Enterprise Community Partners for this wonderful opportunity to expand the supply of affordable for-sale homes.”

“Affordable homeownership is key to the long-term stability and the wellbeing of our community, and Tompkins County warmly thanks Enterprise Community Partners for this wonderful opportunity to expand the supply of affordable for-sale homes,” said Martha Robertson, Chair of the Tompkins County Legislature. “We’re delighted to congratulate INHS on receiving this award, and thrilled to work with INHS staff to help make it happen. Through the Community Housing Trust, these homes will remain affordable for residents today and in generations to come.”

In addition to Tompkins County, the grant awards a total of $7.8 million to nine cities and counties throughout New York State, ranging between $100,000 and $1,1000,000 for each region. The grantees include the cities of Albany, Buffalo, New York, Rochester, and Schenectady, as well as Broome, Nassau, and Suffolk counties.

Enterprise Community Partners released a report on the impact of the first round of the Community Land Trust Initiative. Enterprise was able to leverage the initial grants into a $63 million investment for permanent affordable housing in NYC, Long Island, and Albany. The first round of the program resulted in the creation of 70 buildings or homes, 453 permanently affordable housing units, and 34 new positions or jobs.

The program also reserves $200,000 if the grantees need additional funding before the 2-year program is complete.