Organization Name: Nehemiah Housing Development Fund
Project Title: Nehemiah Spring Creek
Project Location: East New York, Brooklyn, NY
Nehemiah Spring Creek is a multi-phase, decade’s old effort by the City of New York to transform 45-acres of land that was formerly Wetlands (pre-1930) and Landfill (1930-1968) into a robust mixed-income, mixed- use development.
Prior to the Spring Creek Developments, in addition to being an eyesore, the tremendous scale of the site and its prior use posed a significant public health and safety problem for the City. Furthermore, this densely populated segment of Brooklyn had few viable shopping options.
The creation of the adjacent Gateway Shopping Center, the first three phases of Nehemiah Homes, along with the Thomas Jefferson High School Football Field, has transformed Spring Creek into an incredible asset for the local community. Future phases have generated tremendous anticipation as people focus on the volume of affordable for-sale housing, expanded retail, new recreation space and affordable rentals.
Nehemiah HDFC, an affiliate of East Brooklyn Congregations, has developed and completed Phases 1–3, which amount to 368 new affordable homes and 508 total units. Monadnock Development and Nehemiah HDFC have partnered to develop Phases 4 and 5 of Spring Creek, which will consist of 56 single-family homes, 27 two-family homes, and 1,200 affordable rental units. The homes will be sold to families between 80% and 130% of area median income. The rental properties will be affordable to households with incomes between 60% to 125% of the area median income. The builder on all Nehemiah Spring Creek homes has been Monadnock Construction.
To ensure the success and viability of the Spring Creek Developments, the City has invested over $20 million in environmental and infrastructure improvements. Nehemiah phases I, II, and III have had a profound impact on the surrounding residential communities of East New York, Brownsville and the Starrett City Housing Development, which is home to more than 12,500 working class families.
Using the substantial, grassroots clout of East Brooklyn Congregations (EBC), Nehemiah HDFC managed to develop and sell quality affordable housing units in communities where, pundits argued, no one wanted to live. Even more astonishing is the fact that these successes have withstood the test of time. Lenders now acknowledge that home loans made to purchasers of Nehemiah homes have a default rate of less than one percent. EBC’s efforts over the last 25+ years stabilized Brownsville and East New York and set the stage for the current phase of rezoning and development.
Beyond the goodwill created by the development, the real story behind the renaissance of Spring Creek is the outstanding efforts of the developer, Nehemiah HDFC, and its church-based community organizing affiliate organization, East Brooklyn Congregations (EBC). Beginning in the early 1980s, EBC (a member-based organization representing more than 100 Church congregations in the East New York and Brownsville neighborhoods) focused its formidable grassroots efforts on the revitalization of East Brooklyn—long considered some of the most dangerous and distressed communities in the United States. Starting with subsidized homeownership developments as far back as 1982 in Brownsville, EBC has leveraged commitments of city-owned land and subsidy to create what many urban planners acknowledge to be one of the greatest neighborhood revitalization success stories in the last 60 years.