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Five churches selected will receive free help choosing qualified developer partners to avoid fraud and costly mistakes


NEW YORK (August 23, 2017) – The Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) NYC, the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), and the Mayor’s Community Affairs Unit today announced the first five nonprofits to participate in the New York Land Opportunity Program (NYLOP). All groups selected to participate in the first round of the program are faith-based institutions with limited real estate experience based in Manhattan, the Bronx and Queens.

NYLOP is an ambitious, first-of-its-kind program designed to help mission-driven organizations find partners to develop affordable or supportive housing on underutilized land. This program is generously supported by Booth Ferris Foundation, with additional support from BankUnited, Deutsche Bank, M&T Bank, and Santander Bank.

“Working with New York City’s community-based organizations, and particularly faith-based leaders, we are finding new ways to turn underutilized lots into modern affordable housing and community spaces that will benefit New Yorkers in need. I congratulate these five churches, their communities and the partners that got us to this point. Your work is so important,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

“Communities often seek guidance and support from their spiritual leaders. It is only right that we empower and educate these leaders so they can further strengthen their neighborhoods through the creation of affordable housing and expand community programing. I look forward to seeing the work achieved by the New York Land Opportunity Program and celebrating the success of this meaningful collaboration with LISC and all of our neighborhood partners,” said HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer.

“NYLOP aligns with LISC NYC’s mission of supporting local champions to address critical community needs. Churches and other mission-driven organizations are the life-blood of NYC neighborhoods and can play a vital role in meeting the challenge of our city’s affordable housing crisis,” said Sam Marks, Executive Director of LISC NYC.

The program will strengthen the churches’ ability to remain anchor institutions in their neighborhoods, even as significant change is taking place around them. In addition to building housing, the churches expect to continue offering community programs that address the needs of youth, seniors and those struggling with hunger, poverty and homelessness in their neighborhoods.

LISC NYC, known for its ability to quickly produce solutions to tough affordable housing and community development challenges, created NYLOP to strengthen mission-driven community organizations and help them explore the possibility of turning their vacant or underutilized property into viable projects for many years to come.

Starting in fall 2016, LISC NYC held four NYLOP technical assistance workshops in Brooklyn, Queens, Bronx and Manhattan, which were attended by nearly 300 participants. A rigorous application process led to the selection of the first five participating organizations.

NYLOP will provide free assistance, including access to lawyers and architects and help with issuing requests for proposals so that the five groups can identify and select experienced developers as joint venture partners. These partnerships will enable them to develop hundreds of units of affordable housing and community space, while maintaining their existing programs and worship spaces that are key to the civic fabric of their neighborhoods.

The five religious non-profits who will be the first to benefit from the program are:

  • The Community Church of New York Unitarian Universalist which was founded in 1825, has property in Murray Hill, Manhattan. Rev. Bruce Southworth, Senior Minister says, “Over the years, we’ve had many inquiries about our property [from developers] who had interest in luxury housing and little concern for affordable housing. More recently we began thinking about how we might best use our property to serve our mission but don’t have the expertise internally… We are very appreciative of LISC and their technical assistance which will help us to move forward in exploring this new opportunity for our church.”
  • St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, founded over 100 years ago in the Bronx. Fr. Pierre-Andrew Duvert says: “After attending a NYLOP workshop earlier this year, we realized that LISC’s technical assistance is exactly what we need to develop our vacant land. We made mistakes the first time we attempted to develop our property and LISC can help us to make sure we don’t repeat them.”
  • Shiloh Church of Christ, founded in in Harlem in 1932. Elder Dr. Sheila Gillams says: “We have had this land for 40 years, but don’t have the expertise to develop this without a partner. We need LISC to assist us so we can move this project from a vision to a reality.”
  • Wakefield Grace United Methodist Church which has been in Wakefield, Bronx for over 100 years. Pastor Dr. T. Anne Daniel, says: “Our congregation and Metropolitan district leadership have approved the development of the church property for a new place of worship with a mix of housing for seniors and others. We don’t believe we can do this on our own, so we need LISC’s guidance to help us through these early stages of the project.”
  • St. John’s Global Ministries near downtown Jamaica, Queens which recently celebrated its 92nd anniversary. Church Trustee Minnie Dorsey says some of the more senior congregation members remember being swindled by a developer they tried to work with in the past, and “are very apprehensive about trying to build again without help…We have no real estate expertise and need the kind of help LISC can provide as soon as possible.”


Local Initiatives Support Corporation NYC (LISC NYC) equips struggling communities with the capital, program strategy and know-how to become places where people can thrive. Over the past 37 years, LISC NYC has invested over $2.7 billion, leveraging an additional $6 billion in low-income communities. This has resulted in over 38,000 affordable homes built and preserved as well as 1.8 million square feet of retail and community space created. Additionally, LISC NYC builds the capacity of CDCs to undertake work in the following areas: housing development and preservation; integration of green and energy-efficient measures into affordable housing; and economic development. LISC NYC builds the capacity of CDCs by providing direct technical assistance, awarding grant funding, and fostering partnerships with City agencies and other nonprofits. Our CDC partners in turn continue serving as valuable stewards of affordable housing and social services for low and moderate income families in New York City. For more information, visit

The New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) is the nation’s largest municipal housing preservation and development agency. Its mission is to promote quality housing and diverse, thriving neighborhoods for New Yorkers through loan and development programs for new affordable housing, preservation of the affordability of the existing housing stock, enforcement of housing quality standards, and educational programs for tenants and building owners. HPD is tasked with fulfilling Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York: A Five-Borough Ten-Year Plan to create and preserve 200,000 affordable units for New Yorkers at the very lowest incomes to those in the middle class. HPD’s commitment to NYLOP is one part of its strategy to collaborate with mission-driven and faith-based organizations to further the goals outlined in Mayor de Blasio’s Housing New York plan. To learn more about HPD’s Mission-Driven Partnerships, visit the agency website. For more general information visit and for regular updates on HPD news and services, connect with us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @NYCHousing.