Ithaca celebrates opening of highly anticipated affordable housing units

WHCU Radio
November 29, 2017

ITHACA — Ithaca residents and local and state officials gathered in the heart of the city on Wednesday to welcome a major affordable housing development that was years in the making.

What began as a vacant area at 210 Hancock Street now stands an attractive, multicolored set of units that provide a space for education and affordable housing. The Ithaca Neighborhood Housing Services led the $20 million three-year development, which produced 59 affordable rental units at low-income and market rate prices, along with space for the Early Head Start Program and Free Science Workshop.

Various people made speeches at Wednesday’s event, including Johnanna Anderson, who is the recently appointed Executive Director of INHS, NYS Assemblywoman Barbara Lifton, Davi Mozie, who is a resident at the development, along with leaders of various organizations that donated to the project. Ithaca Mayor Svante Myrick was among the speakers, and described how this project is significant in the realm of the housing crisis.

“This is something you do because it’s right. And seeing so many partners to come together to make this happen gives me such hope that we can solve the largest problem we have in the city of Ithaca, and that’s the high cost of housing,” he said.

210 Hancock Street received funding from 12 different sources, including New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR), Community Preservation Corporation, the City of Ithaca, Tompkins County, among others. The project goes alongside the “Southern Tier Soaring” program, an initiative created to expand economic growth and community development in Upstate New York.

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner Ruthanne Visnauskas said the $20 million development rejuvenates the neighborhood with increased access to education through the Early Head Start Program and Free Science Workshop, as well as affordable housing that is also energy efficient.

“It is very green. – it’s actually yellow in color, but it is also very green,” she said. “There are solar panels on the roof – sustainability and green standards that the state uses for affordable housing and that’s really important to us also.”

She said HCR looks forward to continuing to work on other projects in the city. Executive Director Emeritus of INHS Paul Mazzarella further elaborated on that notion.

“We think that building high-quality projects will show to everybody what an affordable housing project can be, and how much it enhances the community. So we’re really proud that it has become an asset for Ithaca,” he explained.

On Wednesday a ribbon-cutting was also held for another affordable housing project in Ithaca known as Cayuga Meadows, which helps seniors who lost their homes from the recent hurricane and tropical storms.