Mayor A
nthony M. Masiello

Best Practice Recognition
The City of Buffalo and Fannie Mae
University Community Initiative

In May of 1998, consultants finished the University Community Initiative (UCI) Housing Redevelopment Study commissioned by the State University of New York at Buffalo (UB). This study did two things. First, it identified six neighborhoods surrounding the UB South Campus that were showing varying degrees of neighborhood decline. Second, it outlined a housing redevelopment strategy as one element in an overall strategy to reverse neighborhood decline that included community policing initiatives and educational needs of families.

The plan calls for the incorporation of a new 501(c)(3) corporation to work specifically on housing acquisition, rehabilitation and resale in order to increase homeownership targeted at middle-income and graduate students. The "university district" of Buffalo currently has two community-based organizations engaged in rehabilitation and resale, but they have been hampered by funding restrictions and have completed no more than 5-6 houses per year over the past several years. The UCI is making a ten-year commitment to complete 25 homes per year with the goal of substantially increasing the neighborhood’s economic diversity.

The UCI program is unique in that a wide array of partners are involved. To get things rolling, the UB Foundation and Fannie Mae are initially funding the 501(c)(3) incorporation. Their funds, coupled with funds from several banks, a private business, and in-kind contributions from the University will underwrite the cost of the administration of the corporation over its first two years. After that, the corporation will be expected to continue its work using operating revenues from interim rents and resale funds. In June of 1999, the "University Heights Development Corporation" was incorporated; initial funding for the corporation has been used to acquire and rehabilitate the first property in the UCI program.

Program participants are also providing special monetary incentives to increase homeownership in the UCI neighborhoods. The City of Buffalo and Buffalo Neighborhood Housing Services, for example, each have committed to provide $50,000 in collateral (or $100,000 altogether) on a Fannie Mae down payment assistance investment note that will leverage their collateral by five times, providing a total of $500,000 in down payment assistance for homebuyers. As a result, homebuyers in the UCI neighborhoods could obtain a $5,000, 10-year termed second mortgage. Additionally, if homebuyers are UB employees living in a UCI neighborhood, they will be able to take advantage of an employer-assisted housing initiative that the university is currently developing in conjunction with Fannie Mae and local lenders.

Finally, the City of Buffalo is adding an additional stimulus by encouraging community development-type capital improvement projects on those streets where the University Heights Development Corporation is targeting house acquisitions and rehabilitation.

In summary, the UCI partnership will have many positive benefits:

  • It will represent the first time that a large, long-term investment in a substantial geographic area of the City of Buffalo has been made by a large company or institution (UB).
  • It represents a complex, cooperative effort amongst more than two partners, i.e. UB, Fannie Mae, several local banks, private investors and the Buffalo Neighborhood Housing Services that can be expanded over time.
  • Over the initial ten-year program term, approximately $7.5 million in rehabilitation and $18.75 million in mortgage investment will occur.
  • The employer-assisted housing element of the program will produce a greater commitment on the part of the school to the neighborhood, since greater numbers of UB employees will live in the surrounding neighborhoods.

For more information, please contact:

Robert D Bannister, Director
Western and Central New York Partnership Office
Fannie Mae
Key Tower, Suite 1370
50 Fountain Plaza
Buffalo, NY 14202
Telephone: (716) 858-4220
Fax: (716) 842-6754

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