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CAMBA Gardens Provides Supportive, Affordable Housing on Hospital Grounds in Brooklyn, New York

Photograph of two modern apartment buildings along a tree-lined street with parked cars in the foreground.CAMBA Gardens I and II provide supportive, affordable housing for formerly homeless individuals, as well as other special needs groups on the Kings County Hospital Center grounds. Credit: Vanni Archive

As of January 2017, more than 62,000 people, including nearly 16,000 families, slept in shelters each night in New York City. During the past 10 years, New York City’s homeless population surged by 79 percent, due in large part to the shortage of affordable housing as well as unemployment, domestic abuse, eviction, and overcrowded housing. As part of their response to this challenge, the city and state have pledged to create 9,000 supportive housing units — assisted housing connected to onsite social and healthcare services — to serve 9 population groups, including people with a range of mental and physical health needs, through the New York/New York III (NY/NY III) Supportive Housing Agreement. NY/NY III provided funding to support CAMBA Gardens, an affordable housing development with supportive services located on the campus of Kings County Hospital Center in Brooklyn. The first phase — CAMBA Gardens I (CGI) — has served the needs of different groups, including formerly homeless families, disabled households, and individuals requiring mental and behavioral health care since it opened in October 2013. The second phase, CAMBA Gardens II (CGII), which opened in 2016, adds more housing for these high-needs groups. CAMBA Gardens represents a successful partnership among the Kings County Hospital Center and the New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation, nonprofit developer CAMBA Housing Ventures (CHV), and service provider CAMBA. The CAMBA Gardens model of locating housing near medical facilities improves tenants’ stability and access to preventive health care, thus promoting long-term cost savings and positive health outcomes.

Housing Through Nonprofit Partnerships

CAMBA, a nonprofit organization founded in 1977, offers services to more than 45,000 low-income individuals in New York City in the areas of economic development, education and youth development, family support, health, housing, and legal services. In 2005, CAMBA created CHV, a nonprofit affiliate, to develop sustainable, transit-oriented, and energy-efficient buildings that provide safe, affordable housing and access to CAMBA’s social services for low-income and formerly homeless families and individuals. CHV has more than 1,500 affordable housing units currently complete, under construction, or in the predevelopment stage and has a goal to construct or preserve 2,500 units by 2020.

Beginning in 1997, the Kings County Hospital Center undertook a five-phase redevelopment project to improve facilities and merge medical services across its 44-acre campus. Completed in 2009, a major part of the redevelopment project focused on constructing a modern, 300,000-square-foot Behavioral Health Center complex that offers inpatient and outpatient mental health services to more than 12,000 individuals per year. This redevelopment created new opportunities to link housing and services. In June 2011, CHV entered a 99-year lease agreement with New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation and made a capitalized payment of $2.3 million for the land to construct CGI on the hospital campus. The two-building development has 209 units composed of 132 studio, 29 one-bedroom, 33 two-bedroom, and 15 three-bedroom apartments. Residents apply for CHV’s affordable housing units through a city-run lottery system. Although 146 of CGI’s units are reserved for households whose members were chronically homeless, CHV reserves 61 of the units for disabled individuals, community board member residents, hospital employees, Hurricane Sandy victims, and municipal employees. Tenants in the 61 affordable community units, who earn less than 60 percent of the area median income, pay monthly rents ranging from $1,017 to $1,406. In March 2014, CGI was fully leased.

By September 2016, more than 65,000 people submitted applications to NYC Housing Connect for CGII, far exceeding the number of available units. CGII opened in fall 2016, offering 293 units composed of 175 studio, 28 one-bedroom, 62 two-bedroom, and 28 three-bedroom apartments within a single building. CHV reserved 182 of the units for formerly homeless individuals who have housing choice vouchers and pay 30 percent of their income in rent. The 110 community housing units have monthly rents ranging from $822 to $1,288. CGII emerged with funding from the 2014 “Housing New York: A Five-Borough, Ten-Year Plan,” which sets a goal to construct or preserve 200,000 affordable housing units over the course of 10 years.

Photograph of ten adults and two toddlers sitting and having a discussion around a table in a modern conference room.Central to CAMBA’s mission is providing social services such as job skills, exercise, smoking cessation, and financial literacy workshops for residents of CAMBA Gardens. Credit: Vanni Archive

Meeting the Needs of Residents

CAMBA provides onsite social services that offer residents a supportive safety net, according to David A. Rowe, executive vice president of CAMBA and CHV. Both phases of CAMBA Gardens offer 24-hour security, computer labs, meeting rooms, communal kitchens for culinary workshops, and common laundry rooms. CGII reserves one unit and CGI reserves two units for live-in superintendents who maintain the buildings. CAMBA helps formerly homeless residents achieve independent living through services such as job training; financial literacy; resume writing; and nutrition, smoking cessation, and substance abuse recovery programs. Case managers help residents access healthcare benefits and recommend community resources. In addition to supplying permanent housing near health care, both phases are also located near subway and bus lines, grocery stores, pharmacies, schools, churches, and parks. CGI and CGII demonstrate “design excellence,” Rowe said, with buildings certified by Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design that feature energy-efficient appliances and lighting, recycled building materials, insulated units, and low- or nontoxic materials to ensure a healthy living environment. The community garden, rooftop terrace, and outdoor play areas promote physical activity. Social gatherings such as healthy cooking classes, movie nights, exercise classes, and arts and crafts activities build community and create a family atmosphere among residents, Rowe emphasized.

Supportive housing also has several cost benefits for homeless shelters, jails, and other state facilities and programs. Because of New York City’s affordable housing shortage, local hospitals must decide whether to keep homeless patients longer than necessary or release them back onto the streets or into the shelter system. Supportive housing located near hospitals provides these patients with a safe and effective discharge solution. An evaluation conducted from 2007 to 2009 among tenants placed in supportive housing under NY/NYIII found that tenants spent fewer days in jail, homeless shelters, and inpatient psychiatric units than did unplaced applicants. With seven of the population groups combined, supportive housing placement under this program saved an average of approximately $5,400 in shelter costs and $1,298 in jail costs per single adult in the year following placement. During this time, supportive housing also generated about $8,700 in Medicaid expense savings per single adult with a substance use disorder. The Kings County Hospital Center also reduced its expenses by transferring carrying costs such as insurance and utilities for the vacant buildings to CHV through the lease agreement, Rowe explained.

Financing CAMBA Gardens

CGI received the 2013 Novogradac Developments of Distinction Award in the Financial Innovation category for its efforts to use local, county, and state funds to complete construction. Development costs for the CAMBA Gardens complex totaled approximately $165.6 million, with CGI costing about $66.8 million and CGII costing about $98.8 million. CHV received funding for CGI and CGII from the New York State Housing Finance Agency; New York State Homeless Housing Assistance Program; New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development; Federal Home Loan Bank/HSBC; New York City Capital (Brooklyn Borough President and City Council); and New York State Energy Research and Development Authority. Both phases also used tax-exempt bond financing and 4 percent low-income housing tax credit equity, which Rowe said were vital funding sources for CAMBA Gardens.

For 125 of its units, CGI also accepted an annual $1.7 million in HUD Section 8 project-based vouchers, which were issued by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development. To provide vital social services such as mental health and behavioral health counseling, CHV leveraged annual funding of approximately $2 million from the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene and about $222,000 from the New York City Department of Homeless Services.

National Recognition

In 2013, CAMBA and CHV gained national attention when the New York Housing Conference and the National Housing Conference named them “Nonprofit of the Year” for developing supportive, affordable housing for New York City’s most vulnerable residents. The Corporation for Supportive Housing awarded CGI “Project of the Year” in 2014, as it continues to serve as a national model of supportive housing for low-income residents in need of nearby hospital services and neighborhood amenities.

Source:

Coalition for the Homeless. 2017. “New York City Homelessness: The Basic Facts.” Accessed 21 July 2017; Coalition for the Homeless. 2017. “State of the Homeless 2017,” 1, 5, 7. Accessed 28 July 2017; A. Levanon Seligson, S. Lim, T. Singh, E. Laganis, E. Stazesky, S. Donahue, C. Lanzara, T.G. Harris, T. Marsik, C.M. Greene, F.R. Lipton, R. Myers, and A.M. Karpati. 2013. “New York/New York III Supportive Housing Evaluation: Interim Utilization and Cost Analysis,” 1–2. Accessed 21 July 2017; CAMBA Housing Ventures, Inc. n.d. “CAMBA Gardens.” Accessed 17 July 2017; NYC Health and Hospitals. Kings County. n.d. “About NYC Health + Hospitals/Kings County.” Accessed 25 July 2017; New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. 2013. “Kings County Hospital: 2013 Community Health Needs Assessment and Implementation Strategy,” 3. Accessed 25 July 2017; Corporation for Supportive Housing. 2014. “CAMBA Gardens: 209 Units of Affordable and Supportive Housing Developed by CAMBA Housing Ventures, Inc.,” presentation at Eastern Region Conference, 26 March, 2, 3, 6, 9, 14. Accessed 17 July 2017; CAMBA Housing Ventures. n.d. “About CAMBA Gardens Phase II.” Accessed 18 July 2017.

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Source:

Corporation for Supportive Housing. 2014. “CAMBA Gardens: 209 Units of Affordable and Supportive Housing Developed by CAMBA Housing Ventures, Inc.,” presentation at Eastern Region Conference, 26 March, 2, 3. Accessed 17 July 2017; Beverly Cheuvront. 2014. “Corporation for Supportive Housing Names CAMBA Gardens ‘Project of the Year’ for Quality and Innovation,” press release, CAMBA, 28 March. Accessed 19 July 2017; CAMBA. n.d. “CAMBA Housing Ventures.” Accessed 19 July 2017; CAMBA. n.d. “CAMBA Strategic Plan 2017–2020,” 2. Accessed 17 July 2017; Interview with David A. Rowe, 4 August 2017; CAMBA Housing Ventures. n.d. “CAMBA Gardens Phase I Project Summary,” document provided by David A. Rowe.

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Source:

New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. n.d. “Kings County Hospital Center.” Accessed 25 July 2017; Interview with David A. Rowe, 4 August 2017; City Planning Commission. 1998. “Resolution,” 3 June. Accessed 25 July 2017; New York City Health and Hospitals Corporation. n.d. “Kings Modernization Phase IV.” Accessed 25 July 2017; New York City Health and Hospitals. n.d. “Modern Facilities.” Accessed 25 July 2017; CAMBA Housing Ventures. n.d. “About CAMBA Gardens Phase II.” Accessed 18 July 2017; Federal Home Loan Bank of New York. 2015. “Federal Home Loan Bank of New York Award $3.8 Million in Affordable Housing Grants in Brooklyn,” press release, 2 February. Accessed 17 July 2017; Corporation for Supportive Housing. 2014. “CAMBA Gardens: 209 Units of Affordable and Supportive Housing Developed by CAMBA Housing Ventures, Inc.,” presentation at Eastern Region Conference, 26 March, 4. Accessed 17 July 2017; Corporation for Supportive Housing. 2014. “CAMBA Gardens: 209 Units of Affordable and Supportive Housing Developed by CAMBA Housing Ventures, Inc.,” presentation at Eastern Region Conference, 26 March, 8, 9. Accessed 17 July 2017; NYC Housing Connect. n.d. “After You Apply for Affordable Housing: Checklists and Resources.” Accessed 4 August 2017; Interview with David A. Rowe, 4 August 2017; Novogradac and Company. n.d. “2013 LIHTC Development that Best Demonstrates Financial Innovation.” Accessed 17 July 2017; CAMBA Housing Ventures. n.d. “CAMBA Gardens.” Accessed 17 July 2017; CAMBA Housing Ventures. n.d. “CAMBA Gardens Phase I Project Summary,” document provided by David A. Rowe.

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Source:

Corporation for Supportive Housing. 2014. “CAMBA Gardens: 209 Units of Affordable and Supportive Housing Developed by CAMBA Housing Ventures, Inc.,” presentation at Eastern Region Conference, 26 March, 8, 9. Accessed 17 July 2017; NYC Housing Connect. n.d. “After You Apply for Affordable Housing: Checklists and Resources.” Accessed 4 August 2017; Interview with David A. Rowe, 4 August 2017; Novogradac and Company. n.d. “2013 LIHTC Development that Best Demonstrates Financial Innovation.” Accessed 17 July 2017; CAMBA Housing Ventures. n.d. “CAMBA Gardens.” Accessed 17 July 2017; CAMBA Housing Ventures. n.d. “CAMBA Gardens Phase I Project Summary,” document provided by David A. Rowe.

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Source:

Interview with David A. Rowe, 4 August 2017; CAMBA Housing Ventures. 2017. “CAMBA Gardens Phase II Project Summary,” document provided by David A. Rowe; CAMBA Housing Ventures. n.d. “About CAMBA Gardens Phase II.” Accessed 18 July 2017; State of New York. 2014. “Governor Cuomo Announces $165 Million Revitalization of Central Brooklyn Hospital Corridor With Affordable and Supportive Housing,” press release, 17 November, 2, 4. Accessed 17 July 2017; The City of New York. 2014. “Housing New York: A Five-Borough, Ten-Year Plan,” 5. Accessed 19 July 2017.

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Source:

A. Levanon Seligson, S. Lim, T. Singh, E. Laganis, E. Stazesky, S. Donahue, C. Lanzara, T.G. Harris, T. Marsik, C.M. Greene, F.R. Lipton, R. Myers, and A.M. Karpati. 2013. “New York/New York III Supportive Housing Evaluation: Interim Utilization and Cost Analysis,” 1–2. Accessed 21 July 2017; Interview with David A. Rowe, 4 August 2017; Richard Cho. 2005. “Involving Public and Nonprofit Hospitals in Supportive Housing,” 4, Accessed 19 July 2017; Corporation for Supportive Housing. 2014. CAMBA Gardens: 209 Units of Affordable and Supportive Housing Developed by CAMBA Housing Ventures, Inc.,” presentation at Eastern Region Conference, 26 March, 4, 143–5. Accessed 17 July 2017; CAMBA Housing Ventures. n.d. “CAMBA Gardens Phase I Project Summary,” document provided by David A. Rowe.

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Source:

Interview with David A. Rowe, 4 August 2017; Corporation for Supportive Housing. 2014. “CAMBA Gardens: 209 Units of Affordable and Supportive Housing Developed by CAMBA Housing Ventures, Inc.,” presentation at Eastern Region Conference, 26 March, 6, 9, 13, 15. Accessed 17 July 2017; NYC Housing Connect. n.d. “Affordable Housing for Rent: CAMBA Gardens Phase II.” Accessed 18 July 2017; CAMBA Housing Ventures. n.d. “About CAMBA Gardens Phase II.” Accessed 18 July 2017; CAMBA Housing Ventures. n.d. “CAMBA Gardens.” Accessed 17 July 2017; CAMBA Housing Ventures. n.d. “CAMBA Gardens Phase I Project Summary,” document provided by David A. Rowe; CAMBA Housing Ventures. 2017. “CAMBA Gardens Phase II Project Summary,” document provided by David A. Rowe; Beverly Cheuvront. 2014. “Corporation for Supportive Housing Names CAMBA Gardens ‘Project of the Year’ for Quality and Innovation.” Accessed 19 July 2017.

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Source:

Novogradac and Company. “2013 LIHTC Development that Best Demonstrates Financial Innovation.” Accessed 17 July 2017; Corporation for Supportive Housing. 2014. “CAMBA Gardens: 209 Units of Affordable and Supportive Housing Developed by CAMBA Housing Ventures, Inc.,” presentation at Eastern Region Conference, 26 March, 8, 19. Accessed 17 July 2017; State of New York. 2014. “Governor Cuomo Announces $165 Million Revitalization of Central Brooklyn Hospital Corridor with Affordable and Supportive Housing.” Accessed 17 July 2017; Enterprise Community Partners. n.d. “Innovative Partnership Creates 500 Affordable Homes with Supportive Services.” Accessed 17 July 2017. CAMBA Housing Ventures. n.d. “CAMBA Gardens.” Accessed 17 July 2017; Interview with David A. Rowe, 4 August 2017; CAMBA Housing Ventures. n.d. “CAMBA Gardens Phase I Project Summary,” document provided by David A. Rowe; CAMBA Housing Ventures. 2017. “CAMBA Gardens Phase II Project Summary,” document provided by David A. Rowe; CAMBA Housing Ventures. n.d. “About CAMBA Gardens Phase II.” Accessed 18 July 2017; Office of the Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams.n.d. “Capital Budget.” Accessed 28 August 2017.

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Source:

Corporation for Supportive Housing. 2014. “CAMBA Gardens: 209 Units of Affordable and Supportive Housing Developed by CAMBA Housing Ventures, Inc.,” presentation at Eastern Region Conference, 26 March, 14. Accessed 17 July 2017.

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Source:

CAMBA. n.d. “CAMBA Housing Ventures.” Accessed 19 July 2017; Beverly Cheuvront. 2014. “Corporation for Supportive Housing Names CAMBA Gardens ‘Project of the Year’ for Quality and Innovation,” press release, CAMBA, 28 March. Accessed 19 July 2017.

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