Frequently Asked Questions


THE GATEWAY LOFTS
FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
The purpose of this document is to offer a straightforward way of answering community questions about the Gateway Lofts, and to correct any misinformation that may be present.

Q. Why does this project cost $36 million dollars? Wouldn’t it be better to use the money to fix up existing properties in need of repair?
  • The $36 million is mostly state and federal funding. It will be spent on affordable housing somewhere in NYS, and most of this funding tends to go downstate, so it would be a “win” for Western NY to bring this kind of economic development project here to Jamestown. "Fixing up" existing housing, to the standards required by the funding agency, would be far more expensive, on a per unit basis than this project is. It would be so expensive as to be considered infeasible by the funding agency.

Q. Isn’t there too much affordable housing in Jamestown?
  • In short, no. An April 2017 market study done by a third party (GAR Associates) as required for project funding documented an extremely high need for quality, safe affordable housing.  The Gateway Lofts will also include permanent, supportive housing, and services like case management, counselors and other support staff.  
  • A May 2017 City of Jamestown “Poverty Reduction Initiative Needs Assessment” commissioned by the City and the United Way of Southern Chautauqua County supports the above and  concludes, among other things, that "[h]ousing is problematic for low-income residents, as the cost of renting is very high and quality affordable housing is scarce." (pp. 32-22).
  • The City also commissioned a 2015 study by CNY Fair Housing entitled “Analysis of Impediments to Fair Housing: Jamestown, NY” which addresses the City’s obligation as a Block Grantee to “affirmatively further fair housing.”  The City's 2015 AFFH study concludes, among other things, that affordable housing choices for families is limited, and recommends that the City work to support subsidized housing developers that are building quality, low-income housing, and to develop better coordination and improved service delivery among subsidized housing providers. Id., p. 12.
  • In fact, the City's need (if not obligation) to address the scarcity of quality affordable housing is underscored by the City's FY 2015-2019 Consolidated Plan & FY 2015 Annual Action Plan (2015-2019 Plan) compiled by the Jamestown Urban Renewal Agency. The 2015-2019 Plan establishes a unified vision for community development actions as required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for funding through the Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) and HOME programs. The goals of the 2015-2019 Plan include, among others, increasing the supply of affordable housing, increasing access to quality public and private facilities, increasing services for persons with special needs, the provision of public services concerned with employment and restoring and preserving properties of special historic, architectural, or aesthetic value. Id. at pp. 1 – 2. It is difficult to imagine a project better suited to advance all of these objectives than the Gateway Lofts proposal.

Q. Will it be safe? Aren’t there potential security issues with the population that may reside there?
  • The Gateway Lofts will be staffed 24/7, with security cameras and systems all over the outside and inside of the building. The presence of support staff and services makes the likelihood of security threats unlikely.

Q. Exactly how many people will be living at the Gateway Lofts?
  • If every single unit were to be filled at the maximum level, it would be no more than 296. The more likely scenario is around 200. See chart below:

GATEWAY POTENTIAL TENANT LOAD

Apartment Size

Units

Minimum Occupancy

Maximum Likely Occupancy, based upon tax credit averages

Maximum if 100% of the units were at 100% permitted occupancy

Studio

4

4

4

4

Limited to one per unit as special needs

One Bed- special needs

44

44

44

44

Limited to one per unit as special needs

One Bed-open

27

27

40.5

54




Two Bed

21

42

63

126




Three Bed

14

42

63

84




Total Tenants

110

151

204

296

Includes a typical 5% vacancy rate

Scenario #


1

2

3












Note: Scenario # 3 has never happened in any project STEL has ever built in more than 20 years. Scenario # 2 is only likely at initial rent up. This is because, by tax credit rules, when a two person household becomes a one person household, due to a family member moving out, the one person household can stay in the two bed apartment until a one bed unit becomes available. Which typically takes a long time in an affordable housing building. The same rules apply to three bedroom units with less than three occupants. So we always have less people in the building than is show in Scenario # 2, except at initial rent up.





Q. Isn’t this an over-concentration of poverty? “Warehousing” poverty in one space?
  • Not only are these units extremely high quality and large size, but it is estimated that around half of the families and individuals will most likely be working families. The location of the Gateway Center also provides access to key services, alleviating the need for transportation (a huge barrier to overcoming poverty in our community). It has also been shown that one of the most important factors to overcoming poverty is safe and stable housing. This allows a foundation for finding work, helping children find academic success in school and dealing with mental health and substance use disorder.

Q. What are the income levels for the residents who will be living at the Gateway Lofts? Is this going to a lot of people on public assistance living in one place?
  • The Gateway Lofts will be a mix of working families, people in need of permanent, supportive housing, and individuals who are on some kind of government assistance and not working. See below for maximum income allowed by bedroom size. As you can see, you could have a household earning as much as $40,000 per year and still qualify to live at the Gateway Lofts:

MAXIMUM INCOME LEVELS PER SIZE APARTMENT

Studio

655 sq ft

$27,060


One Bed

730 sq ft

$28,980


Two Bed

870 sq ft

$34,740


Three Bed

970 sq ft

$40,140





Q. How is this housing project different than other ones already in existence in the City that have reputations of being unsafe or undesirable places to live?
  • It’s important to note two important distinctions between other housing units in Jamestown and this project. One is that the Gateway Lofts project includes significant case management and supportive services as a key part of what is offered. This means support staff that helps residents navigate services, provides substance abuse recovery counseling, and also helps connect to other rehabilitation services. It also means 24/7 staffing at the Gateway Lofts. This is very different than other affordable housing projects in existence in Jamestown, in which none of these support measures and safeguards  exists. STEL’s management of the Gateway Lofts will provide the quality and professionalism that epitomizes its many other successful facilities.  STEL manages similar units in Dunkirk, Olean, Buffalo (Evergreen Lofts - 56 units) and Rochester (113 units) and has a stellar reputation for doing so. The other significant difference is that, unlike certain HUD projects, a tax-credit funded project like the Gateway Lofts provides apartments that are larger, higher quality and subject to standards of upkeep and maintenance and annual inspections in order to avoid significant penalties.

Q. Isn’t it unwise and potentially unsafe to intermix all these different populations?
  • Actually, it is well understood among housing authorities, policy researchers and sociologists that an integrated and mixed approach to housing is best practice. In fact, state agencies that fund projects require integrated housing.  This is because it is stigmatizing and counter-productive to recovery to segregate people with special needs such as homelessness or mental illness from the general public. It is also unnecessary, as direct service providers will agree that these vulnerable people present no greater danger to the community than the average person off the street, particularly given the supervision and support that the Gateway Lofts will provide. In addition, families living in close proximity to persons with disabilities fosters a healthy awareness and attitude that is mutually beneficial to all concerned.

Q. Hasn’t there been significant opposition to the project?
  • Although no project enjoys 100% support, the Gateway Lofts has had overwhelming support in the community. There was a public hearing held in September 2018 and the overwhelming majority of individuals that spoke were in favor of the project. The project has also received letters of support from the following: State Assemblyman Andrew Goodell; Former County Executive George Borrello; Former State Senator Catherine Young; Mark Geise, IDA / Economic Development; Lori Cornell (Governor’s Office); Chautauqua Opportunities; Chautauqua  County Homeless Coalition; Office of Probation; UCAN City Mission; Sheriff Jim Quattrone; Christine Schuyler, Commissioner of Chautauqua County Health & Human Services; Congressman Tom Reed; and Former Sheriff Joe Gerace.

Q. Why is Community Helping Hands Involved in this project?
  • The mission of Community Helping Hands (CHH) is to meet the physical, emotional and spiritual needs of people as we show the love of Christ to empower people to help themselves and others--in short, to give “a hand up.” Currently, CHH meets emergency needs for clothing and household items through its thrift store, provides opportunities for workforce development and has a significant outreach to the Hispanic population in Jamestown. Since 2001, the leadership at CHH has felt strongly there was a God-given vision to provide housing to those in need. Many of the clients of CHH, volunteers and Work Experience Participants struggle to find affordable, safe, and quality housing in our community. It is their stories that are the driving force behind CHH’s desire to partner in this project by transforming the building at 31 Water Street iinto a service-rich place to live and grow.. CHH has always treated those in poverty with dignity and respect, valued their voices and experiences; the Gateway Lofts are the next iteration of that mission, “to give a hand up by first providing a home.”

Q. What is STEL’s experience developing and also managing projects like these, i.e., tax-credit funded housing (both permanent, supportive as well as affordable housing)?
  • STEL is a 501(c)(3) non profit housing developer and has been building housing for low income and special needs persons and families since 1997. In that time STEL has developed more than 750 residential housing apartments. All of STEL’s buildings have at least 30% of the units set aside for persons with special needs. All have long waiting lists to become a resident. STEL's projects are concentrated in Chautauqua County, Buffalo and Rochester but also include buildings in Olean, Ithaca, Long Island and New York City.

  • STEL is currently under construction on a 49 unit, 25 site, scattered site in-fill housing project in the City of Dunkirk. STEL obtained vacant lots and abandoned houses, some from the Chautauqua County Land Bank, and built new single family homes and townhouse style homes in their place. This project would not have been possible without the strong and very active support of Mayor Willie Rosas of Dunkirk. The Gateway off site mitigation plan is designed to be the first step in producing this type of project in the City of Jamestown. 

  • Two STEL projects that are similar to the proposed Gateway development are the Carriage Factory Special Needs apartments in Rochester and Evergreen Supportive Residences in Buffalo. Both were late 1800's factory buildings that have been converted to residential buildings. Carriage Factory has 68 apartments with 38 of those for persons with mental illness and the rest for low income families. Evergreen has 56 units with 28 units for persons with special needs and 28 for low income families. Both projects are, like Gateway, listed on the National Register of Historic Places. Carriage factory also utilized Brownfield Tax Credits. The architect for the Gateway Lofts was also the architect for these two buildings. Below are pictures from the Evergreen Lofts project completed in Buffalo in partnership with Evergreen Health Services called The Evergreen Lofts.