Union Theological Seminary joins with Morningside Heights Community Coalition and P.A.’L.A.N.T.E to Protect and Support Vulnerable New Yorkers

Categories: Press Releases

Announces Community Investment Initiative to Address Homelessness and Support Social Justice Funded Through Innovative Partnership with Lendlease and L+M

(December 4, 2018 – NEW YORK) – Union Theological Seminary today announced its plan for a $5 million community investment initiative, alongside the Morningside Heights Community Coalition and P.A.’L.A.N.T.E., funded through an innovative partnership with Lendlease and L+M.

Union is in the middle of a comprehensive campus revitalization to secure its future as an institution that trains people of all faiths who are called to the work of social justice in New York City and the world.  This effort includes upgrading and protecting existing structures, making the campus accessible, as well as collaborating, in conjunction with Lendlease and L+M, on a mixed-use facility to include classrooms, offices, faculty residences and market-rate housing.

While taking these critical steps to renew its campus, Union, alongside partners Lendlease and L+M, are also committing resources to protect and support its neighbors. The $5 million community investment fund, to be awarded over a period of five years, will address anti-displacement and homelessness needs in Morningside Heights. The Morningside Heights Community Coalition and P.A.’L.A.N.T.E. along with Council Member Mark Levine, State Senator Brian Benjamin and local leaders worked closely with Union to help detail the investment program.

The funding will be awarded across three different areas, including direct investment in the Morningside Heights community, strategic partnerships with community service and advocacy organizations, and social justice programming to develop the next generation of activists and leaders.

Direct Investment In Morningside Heights Community

Union will directly contribute $1.1 million to the Morningside Heights Community. This includes $700,000 in funding for the impactful work of P.A.’L.A.N.T.E., specifically their legal work and space needs, as they expand their displacement prevention programs. Union will also contribute $400,000 in three installments over three years to the Morningside Heights Community Fund at the New York Community Trust. The Fund will be dedicated to supporting social services, projects, and programs in the Morningside Heights community. Investment in the community fund will occur at the commencement and construction of the new mixed-use building.

Strategic Partnerships With Community Service And Advocacy Organizations

Union will allocate nearly $3 million for addressing homelessness through partnerships with community service and advocacy organizations, working in Morningside Heights and city-wide. These organizations include: Habitat for Humanity, Services for the Underserved, Unity Project, Middle Collegiate Church, New Sanctuary Coalition and FPWA, among others.

By establishing partnerships with these organizations, many of which have specific engagement in Morningside Heights, Union will also provide opportunities for students to be trained in addressing homelessness and other community needs. Union will place students with partner organizations either as paid interns or as fellows supported by stipends, through funding from Union in both instances.

Developing The Next Generation of Activists And Leaders Through Social Justice Programming

Union will invest $1 million to develop the next generation of activists and leaders through social justice related programming (i.e. religion, race, gender, age, sexual orientation) that will address the inequality, marginalization and oppression that continues to be pervasive in Morningside Heights, the city and throughout the nation and the world.

There is no shortage of important causes and issues that require the attention of organizers and outspoken community leaders. Union’s new Center for Community Engagement and Social Justice will organize students and faculty passionate about righting injustice, whether it’s related to race, religion, sexual orientation or gender.

“For over one hundred years, Morningside Heights has been Union’s home, and as we prepare to renew our campus for the next hundred years, we also want to do our part to ensure this community is equally positioned for a bright future,” said Serene Jones, president of Union Theological Seminary. “That’s why we’re making significant investments to reduce homelessness and displacement and to fight injustice in our community, in every form.”

“Lendlease is excited to form this innovative partnership that will allow for the renewal of Union’s campus while working alongside local neighborhood groups to support the communities in which we work and live.  We are proud to be part of this community investment initiative that will help ensure the Morningside Heights community has the needed resources to help tackle issues such as homelessness and inequality,” said Melissa Roman Burch, Executive General Manager – New York Development, Lendlease.

 “As Union begins their mission critical work of renewing their campus, we are proud to partner with this team not only as developers, but also as committed neighbors through our significant investment to protect and support vulnerable Morningside Heights community members,” said Ron Moelis. CEO + Founding Partner of L+M Development Partners.  

“At a time of mounting displacement pressure on low-income tenants in Morningside Heights, this landmark investment will dramatically expand the resources available to help keep local families in their homes. This agreement establishes an important precedent: that new development must be matched by expanded investment in neighborhoods, with a particular focus on protection of vulnerable tenants. It’s an example I hope others will follow,” said Council Member Mark Levine.

“Middle-class and low-income residents across New York City are struggling with the harmful effects of luxury overdevelopment, and the lack of affordable housing in their neighborhoods.  Recognizing this, Union, and its development partners, are proactively providing the Morningside Heights community with financial support to mitigate some of the adverse impacts of rising gentrification. Other New York City institutions and developers should take notice and follow Union’s lead,” said State Senator Brian Benjamin.

“P.A.’L.A.N.T.E. is happy to have the support of any ally helping to keep New Yorkers in safe and habitable homes. As New York continues to see economic growth, it’s important to remember the human impact that growing inequality and rising rents have on real people.” said Elsia Vasquez, Executive Director of P.A.’L.A.N.T.E. Harlem. “We look forward to collaborating with Union to help New Yorkers remain in their homes.”

“As housing costs continue to rise and displacement impacts more and more New York families, it’s all the more important to combat growing inequality by building preserving and advocating for affordable homeownership opportunities,” said Matt Dunbar, VP of External Affairs for Habitat for Humanity New York City. “By securing and providing stable housing for New Yorkers, we help create the opportunity for financial stability and self-determination. We look forward to working with Union on this shared mission to create a City where everyone has a safe, quality, and affordable place to call home.”

“New York City communities are struggling with how to respond to changes in their neighborhoods and across the five boroughs,” said Jennifer Jones-Austin, Chief Executive Officer of the Federation of Protestant Welfare Agencies. “This is an important example of partnership, a community and one of its oldest institutions working hand in hand, for the common good. We are proud to be collaborating on a framework other neighborhoods could potentially adopt.”

For more information about Union Theological Seminary and the campus renewal plan, visit Union’s website.


About Union Theological Seminary

Union Theological Seminary in the City of New York is a seminary and graduate school of religion, grounded in the Christian tradition and embracing of multiple religious traditions. Union prepares students for committed lives of service to both faith communities and the broader world. Our unique educational programs develop practices of mind and body that encourage compassionate wisdom and foster academic excellence and a commitment to social justice. Union believes that a new interreligious spirituality of radical openness and love is the world’s best hope for peace, justice, and planetary flourishing.

About Lendlease

Lendlease is a leading international property and infrastructure group with operations in the Americas, Australia, Asia, and Europe. Our vision is to create the best places; places that inspire and enrich the lives of people around the world.

Headquartered in Sydney, Australia, and listed on the Australian Securities Exchange, Lendlease has approximately 13,000 employees internationally. 

Our core capabilities are reflected in our operating segments of Development, Construction and Investments. The combination of these three segments provides us with a sustainable competitive advantage and allows us to provide innovative integrated solutions for our customers. www.lendlease.com

About L+M Development Partners

Since its inception in 1984, L+M Development Partners, Inc. has been an innovator in developing quality affordable, mixed-income and market rate housing, while improving the neighborhoods in which it works. A full-service firm, L+M works from conception to completion, handling development, investment, construction and management with creativity that leads the industry. L+M is responsible for more than $7 billion in development and investment, and has acquired, built or preserved more than 22,000 high-quality residential units in New York’s tristate area, the West Coast and Gulf Coast regions. L+M is a double bottom line company, where its success is measured not only in financial returns but also by positive impacts. For more information, please visit: https://lmdevpartners.com/.