LISC NYC closes deal to bring affordable housing to Central Harlem

Aerial view of Central Park, Manhattan, and Harlem, and The Bronx in a distance behind, from a helicopter on a sunny summer day.
Photo via Getty Images

On Jan 24. a $6.5 million construction financing deal was signed off by the non-profit LISC NYC, through the NYC Acquisition Fund, and donated to Carthage Real Estate Advisors LLC, a reputable Minority Business Enterprise (MBE) in the tri-state area. The loan will be allocated between three major projects that include the development of new affordable housing units, a retail space and the new LGBTQ Center of Harlem.

The NYC Acquisition Fund was first created in 2006, and offers flexible bridge loans to affordable housing developers to acquire vacant sites and occupied buildings, as well as finance pre-development work. Then, in 2021, the fund was modified by former Mayor Bill de Blasio as a way to commit “to a fair and equitable recovery,” according to de Blasio, post-COVID-19. 

Now, the Fund exclusively serves Minority and Women-Owned Businesses (M/WBEs) and nonprofit developers “in its mission to support affordable and supportive housing development,” according to a NYC press release. 

“Affordable housing shouldn’t just offer a place for New Yorkers in underserved communities to live – its construction should offer opportunity to those New Yorkers, too,” the former Mayor said, following the Fund’s modifications in 2021. “I’m proud to stand with partners across government to support developers who give back the most to the New Yorkers they serve.”

Since the predominantly BIPOC neighborhood is still reeling from the devastating effects of the pandemic, construction on the affordable housing at The Marcus Garvey Apartments in Harlem has already begun (however the official start is June of 2022). 

Approximately 169 new low-cost units are anticipated to be developed, with about 41 units reserved for Central Harlem residents and 51 units to go to the more destitute homeless New Yorkers, thanks to the 15/15 Rental Assistance program created by the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development. This New York City-funded rental assistance program aids families or individuals that are homeless or at risk of homelessness by offering an apartment with reasonable rent, and resources to support their transition toward security.

“We’re grateful to help create affordable and quality housing opportunities in Central Harlem – in a neighborhood where it’s needed most,” said Janet Lorn, the Community Development Officer for Housing at LISC NYC.

Despite Harlem residents’, “unmatched resiliency and entrepreneurial spirit,” said Lorn, COVID-19 has taken a significant toll on the neighborhood, which is why LISC NYC is, “excited to continue to help build for this community’s vibrant future.”

The success of the Harlem community’s future wasn’t just a priority for LISC, but also a major driving force for the developers, Carthage Real Estate Advisors— especially the President, Edward Poteat. 

Poteat has been the leading developer on the project since 2015, and his vision for the Garvey Apartments will curate the building into more than just an affordable living space for Harlem residents.

“We envision Marcus Garvey Apartments as a new anchor in the Central Harlem community,” said Poteat, “and the LISC loans provides critical capital for us to continue to carry this project through to its completion.”

With plans for a unique artistic space on the rooftop of the building for “up-and-coming artists”, a retail space, and Harlem’s newest LGBTQ center located on the ground level of the development, spanning exactly 3,000 sq. ft., according to Lorn, the complex will soon offer a variety of advantageous programming, social services, and resources for every local resident.

“It’s partnerships like this that make a difference in community development,” Lorn said.