Community partners gathered Friday, September 20th to celebrate a successful decade-long collaboration, the Community Housing Development Fund, through which Tompkins County, the City of Ithaca, and Cornell University have pooled resources to address our area’s affordable housing crisis.
Tompkins County administers the fund on behalf of the three funding partners. Since Community Housing Development Fund (CHDF) was established in 2009, Tompkins County and the City of Ithaca each have contributed $100,000 each year, and Cornell University $200,000 annually to support affordable housing. At the event Cornell Vice President for University Relations Joel Malina announced that the University will also make an additional one-time contribution of $200,000 to the Housing Fund to help the fund meet some of the unmet demand for its resources.
Since the Community Housing Development Fund was initiated, INHS alone has received over $2.1 million in CDHF funding which has leveraged approximately $100 million in funding from New York State, private investors and financial institutions, and the federal government. That funding has gone toward the development or preservation of for sale, and rental housing in Tompkins County, and has resulted into an additional 259 rental units and 46 for-sale homes that have been added into INHS’ Community Housing Trust that provides permanently affordable homes for first-time home buyers.
The celebration took place at 28 Crystal Drive in Dryden, where a home purchased by INHS is being renovated for a client, sitting on land that will be held by INHS in our Community Housing Trust. INHS will retain the land and the buyer will purchase the home, helping to ensure that the home remains affordable not only for the initial buyer but for subsequent buyers as well.
“To create affordable housing opportunities for our community, no one entity does it alone,” said County Legislature Chair Martha Robertson, who chairs the CHDF Program Oversight Committee. “We are so fortunate to have the partnership of our largest employer, Cornell University, together with the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County to create the CHDF. Together, we three partners have provided almost $4 million, leveraging approximately $114 million in outside funding over the last ten years, to support construction or rehabilitation of 491 units of affordable housing across Tompkins County.”
While recent published reports indicate that residential construction permits in Tompkins County hit a new record of 805 units in 2018, Robertson noted that fewer than 20% (155) were for single family homes, showing home ownership opportunities still lagging. Robertson recognized INHS, foremost client of the CHDF, for its project innovation and entrepreneurial spirit, “building homes that literally change people’s lives.”
“The Community Housing Fund has become a staple in providing funding to support affordable housing within the City of Ithaca and Tompkins County,” said INHS Executive Director Johanna Anderson. “The impact of this partnership is insurmountable, providing much-needed funding to expand access to affordable housing to those who need it most. In a region experiencing a housing crisis, this is exactly the type of support we need to combat this issue.” The INHS client would not be able to own the Crystal Drive home without the support of the Community Housing Development Fund, Anderson said.
“The Community Housing Development Fund is a great example of community-campus collaboration, and it’s a privilege for Cornell University to work with Tompkins County and the City of Ithaca on this landmark initiative that works to ensure that newly constructed or rehabilitated housing units remain affordable to successive buyers or renters,” said Vice President Malina.
Cornell’s one-time additional contribution of $200,000 will supplement the $200,000 that Cornell will pay in each of the next two years, pursuant to the latest extension of the Housing Fund agreement. Mr. Malina also announced that, upon expiration of the current agreement, the University will extend its $200,000 annual contribution for another six years, which will bring Cornell’s total investment to $3.8 million by the end of the next six-year extension.
“We are also grateful for Cornell’s longstanding partnership with INHSs, going back to its start-up in 1977, and its straightforward, powerful mission: To revitalize neighborhoods in and around Tompkins County, encouraging stability and diversity, and to assist low to moderate income people in obtaining quality housing on a long-term basis,” Vice President Malina said.