Jun 26, 2024

Reimagining Affordable Homes with New Stories

How Robin Hood harnesses the innovative power of philanthropy to bring housing and critical public resource space to Inwood

If you take the A train uptown, past Harlem and Washington Heights, and exit the subway at Dykman Street, you’ll find the thriving heart of Inwood. Home of the Cloisters, forested parks, and a vibrant, diverse community, this upper-Manhattan neighborhood has a rich history, but like many other NYC neighborhoods, has been hit hard by the widespread affordability crisis. When the cost of rent eats up 70% of low-income families’ monthly income, and citywide rental vacancies hover stubbornly at 1%, innovative solutions are needed to house and support New Yorkers in need.

Enter ‘New Stories’, a large-scale public-private partnership that created 174 deeply affordable apartments, a newly renovated New York Public Library (NYPL) branch, and other critical community spaces and services, all under one roof in the newly-minted Joseph and Shelia Rosenblatt Building.

Executing multi-use development projects on this scale is no easy feat. Working with the city’s Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), NYPL, and a host of elected officials, nonprofits, and community groups, Robin Hood provided vital philanthropic funding that unlocked almost $90 million in public subsidies, tax credit equity, and construction loans to revitalize a beloved community library and simultaneously create new residential space, bringing this project to life.

Below, explore a timeline of the exciting development of ‘New Stories’.

The Evolution of New Stories

Robin Hood made a $5 million grant to NYPL to revitalize the outdated Inwood library branch, which sat on underbuilt, city-owned land. This contribution, made possible by a generous grant from Robin Hood donors and siblings Sam, Sarah, and Jill in honor of their parents, the late Joseph and Sheila Rosenblatt, paved the way for additional public funding for the fit-out of the brand-new library building which in turn created opportunity for the addition of residential space.

Renderings of a modernized 20,000 square-foot Inwood Library branch and, above it, a 12-story tower of 174 deeply affordable housing units known as The Eliza created in 2018 gave us a first real glimpse of what this partnership would create. The plans also include resources to serve the larger Inwood community, such as a child care center housing a universal Pre-K program, a STEM education center, a community kitchen, and community space for meetings and large gatherings.

In 2021, construction commenced, kicking off a transformative project that ended with the topping out placement of the final steel beams in 2022. As their own special memorial, Sam, Jill, and Sarah wrote letters to their late parents, which were encased in the final concrete poured at the site.

For 10 years, Robin Hood worked with an array of partners to bring the New Stories development to life. All of the planning and work culminated in the cutting of the ribbon on the Joseph and Shelia Rosenblatt Building on June 26, 2024.

Robin Hood’s Value

‘New Stories’ is an example of how Robin Hood makes the impossible, possible for New Yorkers. A  project like this doesn’t happen without innovation and collaboration, two things Robin Hood’s brand of philanthropy brings to the table.

Robin Hood is a catalyst to get creative projects off the ground by cementing partnerships, funneling private dollars, and pouring innovation into government processes to create new blueprints to fight poverty and support New Yorkers.