Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers Reimagines An Eastside Community with New Affordable Senior Housing and A Renovated Community House

(Buffalo, New York) The Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers (BFNC) vision of a modern and thriving senior community is now a reality. On August 12, 2021, BFNC Staff, government leaders and supporters help celebrate the completion of a $23.2 million housing and healthcare development for seniors in the city of Buffalo. Westminster Commons, located in a quiet community, is near essential services and a public transit bus route. The new housing community located on the city’s East Side includes a newly constructed apartment building with 84 affordable and supportive apartment and a renovated historic Westminster Settlement House which will house a federally qualified healthcare center, physical therapy suite, adult day programming, bank, and offices for staff providing supportive services to the residents.

Chandra Redfern, Chief Executive Officer, Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers, Inc., said, “We are thankful for the assistance and funding we have received in helping a long-time vision come full circle. We want residents to feel that they are part of a thriving community; a community that provides affordable and quality housing options, is walkable, and where senior residents have access to medical care and other services that allow them to live a quality life.”

Westminster Commons has 84 energy-efficient one- and two-bedroom apartments for adults aged 55 and older in a single, four-story elevator building. All apartments are affordable to households earning at or below 60 percent of the Area Median Income. Forty apartments are reserved for seniors with a history of mental illness. As an “Aging in Place” apartment community, residents will have access to on-site supportive services provided at the nearby Westminster House. Services include case management, benefits advocacy, financial management, job skills training and assistance with medical care. The Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers, Inc. is the supportive service provider and co-developer with Rochester’s Cornerstone Group. The Westminster Settlement House, originally constructed in 1893 and part of the Westminster Commons Community, has been transformed into a community service facility with health-oriented services for both residents
and the community. Services include a certified senior adult day care program, a federally qualified healthcare center, an Evans Bank branch, a commercial kitchen and beauty salon. The renovated settlement house also includes offices for staff providing supportive services to the residents and community outreach space.

Westminster Commons is part of the Governor’s commitment to providing all New Yorkers with access to safe, affordable housing, which is reflected in the state's $20 billion, five-year Housing Plan. The plan makes housing accessible and combats homelessness by building and preserving more than 100,000 units of affordable housing and 6,000 units of supportive housing. Since 2011, TK New York State Homes and Community Renewal has invested more than $112 million on Buffalo’s East Side to build or preserve 1,200 affordable housing units that are creating homes for more than 2,700 people.  State financing for Westminster Commons includes federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits that generate about $14 million in equity and an additional $3 million in subsidy from HCR through its Supportive Housing Opportunity Program and Urban Community Investment Fund. The New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance provides $3.4 million through the Homeless Housing Assistance Program. Additional financing is provided by The Dormitory Authority of the State of New York, Office of The Honorable Crystal D. Peoples-Stokes, the New York
State Energy Research and Development Authority and Federal and State Historic Tax Credit equity.
The New York State Office of Mental Health provided project based rental subsidies and services funding for 26 units through the Governor’s Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative and 14 more through its Scattered Site Supportive Housing Program. The city of Buffalo provided $350,000 in HOME funds.

“Westminster Commons is another great project for our seniors who are now able to enjoy a vibrant and supportive living space, with all the amenities and important on-site services, right within their community,” said Mayor Byron W. Brown, noting that since 2006, his Administration has strategically committed $58 million for affordable housing projects that have leveraged $470 million in development and created over 2,266 new housing units for city residents, senior citizens, and veterans. “In a city where 27 percent of our population is age 55 and over – a demographic that is continuing to rise — it is imperative that we continue to address the current and future affordable
housing needs of our older residents. Westminster Commons represents the importance of having safe and affordable homes for our seniors to age in place, in the communities they know and love.”

“We are proud to partner with the Buffalo Federation of Neighborhood Centers and Rochester’s Cornerstone Group on this $23.2 million senior and supportive housing development for 84 households,” said HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas. “It is our strong vote of confidence in the future of the East Side where revitalization efforts already are making a positive impact on the community. Governor Cuomo’s strategic investment in Buffalo’s East Side is transforming the area with new commercial activity, access to health services, and affordable housing that allows seniors to live independently in the neighborhood they call home.”

ABOUT BUFFALO FEDERATION OF COMMUNITY CENTERS (BFNC): We assist community members with overcoming life obstacles. BFNC has over 125 years of serving the Buffalo community and providing a safety-net of human services to assist residents with mental illness, substance abuse, affordable housing, financial training, and tax assistance. We also provide quality youth programming and services that assist and provide guidance as they create their paths to success. Learn more at www.bfnc.org. Follow our stories on Facebook: @buffalobfnc