NEW YORK CITY—Singer Cyndi Lauper is one of the forces behind a trailblazing affordable housing development that’s under construction in Central Harlem.
With 30 studio apartments, the True Colors Residence will serve lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youths with a history of homelessness. The name is a nod to Lauper’s support of the project and comes from her hit song “True Colors.”
The development, which is scheduled to open next year, is the first of its kind in the city and possibly in the state, says Colleen Jackson, executive director of the West End Intergenerational Residence, the housing group that’s developing True Colors. Other residential programs serving the same population are transitional.
“I was concerned that it would be a challenge getting government funding, but I was pleasantly surprised and have to say there has been tremendous support for this project,” Jackson tells Affordable Housing Finance. “In New York City, approximately 40 percent of homeless and runaway youths identify as LGBT. Clearly the need for a residence like True Colors is there, and I think people are anxious to help. Since word got out that we broke ground, I’ve received nothing but positive and encouraging e-mails and phone calls.”
The financing comes from a variety of sources, including a construction loan and the purchase of low-income housing tax credits (LIHTCs) by Citi; construction and permanent lending provided by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development Supportive Housing Loan Program; construction and permanent lending from the Federal Home Loan Bank's Affordable Housing Program through member M&T Bank; a grant from Manhattan Borough President Scott Stringer; and a loan from the state Energy Research and Development Authority. A portion of the financing was made possible by the Tax Credit Assistance Program. The LIHTC equity is being syndicated by Richman Housing Resources, a member of The Richman Group of Cos.
Acquisition and pre-development financing for True Colors was provided by the Corporation for Supportive Housing and the New York Acquisition Fund.
"Gay, lesbian, bisexual, and transgender youths living on the streets and in foster care need our support more than ever," said Lauper in a statement. "In New York City, the True Colors Residence is going to play a big role in providing these young people with the leg up and encouragement they need. I am thrilled that construction has already begun, and I am honored to be a part of this important project."
The idea for the residence grew out of a conversation that Lauper, her manager Lisa Barbaris, and Jackson had about the needs of LGBT youths. The singer is actively promoting the project and will also provide support through her True Colors Fund.