Organization Name: Leviticus Fund
Project Title: Yonkers Housing Report
Project Location: City of Yonkers, New York
How does a municipality maximize economic benefits of a strong real estate market while ensuring established, diverse income communities are not displaced by rapid gentrification and critical resources are used to improve distressed housing conditions? This is the focus of a housing needs assessment about the City of Yonkers, specifically looking at the southwest quadrant that has the highest concentration of poverty in the city. The study is compiling a quantitative profile of residents and workers in Yonkers, describing demographic trends as well as the city’s economic capacity with its industrial base, development and fiscal health. The study's unique approach is to not consider the housing challenges of one isolated project or one development site or even one housing type. It is trying to formulate a long-term road map that could govern all aspects of housing, inclusive of zoning regulations that could facilitate development and financial mechanisms to help close financing gaps. The project team anticipates the housing report will not only serve as a tool for Yonkers as it formulates long-term housing policy, but could also serve as a model for other cities contemplating housing policy studies.
Yonkers has witnessed an accelerated pace of luxury housing development in the last 10 years near its Hudson River shoreline. These new housing units, almost all above median income, have attracted new investments and increased tax revenue. Yet established residents – especially those at lower income levels – risk displacement as a result of this urban revitalization. The housing study is an effort to ensure the voices of residents and community stakeholders are heard and that their input can be woven into detailed housing policy strategies tied to a comprehensive framework for community, fiscal and economic development. Several strategies are being used to collect meaningful input. First, the project team has organized several public workshops in which multi-lingual facilitators will collect information from Yonkers residents on barriers to renting and purchasing housing, the quality and condition of existing housing, ideas for improving neighborhood quality of life and feedback on potential housing policy reforms. The team is also gathering resident input as they walk through downtown. Finally, interviews are planned with local nonprofits to draw upon their knowledge of Yonkers’ housing needs.
Founded in 1983, the Leviticus Fund is a regional nonprofit affordable housing and community facility lender that uses its mission-driven, flexible capital to promote stability and opportunity for people that are the most marginalized and underserved. The Yonkers housing needs assessment is the first study of its kind initiated by Leviticus and offers a unique opportunity to work with JPMorgan Chase as the philanthropic partner and with land use and economic consultants Kevin Dwarka LLC and the Land Use Law Center at Pace University School of Law.
Leviticus Fund; JPMorgan Chase Foundation; Kevin Dwarka LLC and the Land Use Law Center.