Central Branch YMCA Receives $1.35 Million Grant, Biden, Carper, Castle Praise Grant as Means to avoid Transitional Housing Crisis

WILMINGTON, DE – U.S. Senator Tom Carper and Congressman Mike Castle announced today that the Federal Home Loan Bank has awarded a $1.35 million housing grant for the renovation of the Central Branch YMCA in Wilmington. A vital part of the community, the YMCA provides a haven from homelessness and a “leg up” to those working toward a better life. By providing safe, dignified, accessible housing to men who might otherwise be homeless, the YMCA is one of the state’s most important components in providing transitional housing. The Renovation Project, which is budgeted at $16 million, will allow the Y to continue its transitional housing service to Delaware. “Our state faces a transitional housing crisis that the YMCA’s Renovation Project will help solve. We have the ability and the responsibility to avert this potential crisis,” Carper said. “From education to athletics, the YMCA is a place of self-improvement. The Y’ needs our community’s support to allow its transitional housing project to help others on the road to a better life. This grant moves this project forward and gives it momentum towards that goal.” “The YMCA’s Renovation Project is both impressive and ambitious, and most importantly it is an asset to our State. As a former Delaware Governor, I have witnessed first hand the hardships people face when trying to get back on their feet and become self-sufficient”, Congressman Castle said. “The lack of affordable and accessible short-term housing is an on-going problem, with no simple solution. The Y’s dedication to facing the problem head-on is admirable. I wish the Renovation Project continued success.” The housing grant, won by the YMCA of Delaware and the Commerce Bank with grant-writing assistance from the delegation, will be used to update the major systems of the historic YMCA building. The Central Branch Renovation Project adds 40 new rooms and renovates the existing facilities so that critical safety and environmental concerns can be met, and deteriorating systems can be updated. Annually, over 500 men are turned away. This project will increase the number of beds by 28% – a significant contribution to the state’s transitional housing supply. “Commerce Bank is pleased to be a part of this important restoration project which also provides much needed services for Wilmington’s citizens, while restoring the building to its former stature,” said Thomas H. Arasz, Commerce Bank senior vice president and CRA officer. “The housing, day care and community services offered by the YMCA will help meet a critical need in the community.” “This award results from a shared sense of community and hard work by YMCA and Commerce Bank,” said Jim Florio, Chairman of the Federal Home Loan Bank. “The FHL Bank of New York is very pleased to lend a hand with this congressionally authorized program to help the YMCA to continue to serve the citizen of Wilmington.” “Renovation of the Central YMCA is a vital project that will benefit our community in many ways, from the historic restoration of the facility to enhancing day care and other services provided at the Y. Most important, improved transitional housing for the homeless, allowing people to live in dignity, is a noble and worthy goal I’m happy is one step closer,” said Senator Joseph R. Biden, Jr. The YMCA of Delaware has made arrangements with various service providers to coordinate the delivery of services based on individual resident needs. Programs and services offered will include onsite counseling and referrals to alcohol and drug treatments centers, mental health counseling, medical assistance, and employment skills training. The new housing combined with supportive services will assist residents in returning to society’s mainstream as fully functioning, self-sufficient, productive citizens. “Thanks to the support of the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York the YMCA is one step closer to assuring the community that we will continue to house more than 600 men per year during transition periods of their lives”, said Michael Graves, President of the YMCA of Delaware. Established by an act of Congress in 1989, the Federal Home Loan Bank operates the Affordable Housing Program (AHP) that provides member lenders and nonprofit organizations with housing grants to benefit qualified individuals and families. The Home Loan Bank commits 10% of its profits each year to fund the program. Specific AHP project financing is combined with other funding sources to create housing for moderate-, low-, and very low-income families. Program awardees receive the funds through two semi-annual competitive rounds. Each competing project must be sponsored by a financial organization that is a member of the Home Loan Bank. The Delaware State Housing Authority, Low Income Housing Tax Credits, Federal and State Historic Tax Credits, and local foundations grants will provide additional financing for the $16 million project. Commerce Bank is the region’s fastest growing independent financial services retailer, with assets of $9.3 billion and a network of nearly 160 branches throughout New Jersey, eastern Pennsylvania and northern Delaware. Commerce is maintaining an aggressive expansion pace, and plans to open more than 200 additional branches over the next five years. During 2001, the Bank will open more than 35 additional branches, including its first two branches in Manhattan. For more information about Commerce, please visit the company’s financial resource center at commerceonline.com. The FHLBNY is a AAA rated, congressionally chartered, wholesale bank. It is part of the Federal Home Loan Bank System, a national wholesale banking network of 12 regional, stockholder-owned banks. The mission of the Federal Home Loan Banks is to advance housing opportunity and local community development by maximizing the capacity of community-based member-lenders to serve their markets.