Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A (Brooklyn A) is one of the few legal services organizations in the country to develop and sustain a neighborhood-based Community and Economic Development (CED) Program. For more than four decades it has represented thousands of nonprofit community-based organizations (CBOs) and community development corporations (CDCs). Our CED attorneys provide CBOs and CDCs with ongoing, comprehensive legal counsel in their daily operation and functioning and at all stages of project and program development. With our CED attorneys’ assistance, our clients are able to increase their organizational strength, the effectiveness of the services they deliver, and their ability to meet their community’s needs.
The groups we represent seek to create, develop, and operate new and rehabilitated affordable housing; provide high quality health care services; develop community-wide sustainable development strategies; provide support and educational services to youth from infancy through college; and generally work for social and economic justice in local low-income communities. Our partnerships create minority and community-owned businesses and jobs. Many of our CED clients have incorporated “green” building and the concept of sustainable development into their projects. Find more information about our Green Building Law and Justice Project here.
In February 2018, we launched our Small Business Support Project (SBSP) in order to respond to our constituents’ changing needs. The program provides dedicated, high-quality legal counsel to small business owners throughout New York City on matters related to commercial leasing. Read more about the program here.
Our local partnerships are longstanding, with most collaborations persisting for two decades or more. These relationships enable Brooklyn A to serve as the legal catalyst fueling community-initiated projects that create critical infrastructure and improve the quality of life for struggling New York City families.
DIRECT CLIENT SERVICES
Brooklyn A’s CED attorneys, as in-house and special project counsel, offer nonprofit clients ongoing, long-term representation that encompasses the full range of services that private sector corporations routinely receive from their corporate counsel. Our attorneys act as counselors, negotiators, tacticians, strategists and troubleshooters.
The transactional legal services we provide include:
- Real estate, including pre-development coordination and title and finance closings
- The drafting and negotiation of contracts
- Regulatory representation and negotiations with governmental authorities
- Advice and council with regard to public and private financing
- Corporate and tax advice
- Environmentally sustainable development
- Employee relations
- Corporate formation, including incorporation, obtaining tax-exempt status and organizational structuring
- Litigation, in limited circumstances
COMMUNITY PARTNERS and CLIENTS
Brooklyn A partners with CBOs in order to achieve success. Our current community partners include:
- African American Planning Commission, Inc.
- Arts East New York, Inc.
- The Bedford Stuyvesant Family Health Center, Inc.
- Borough Development Group
- Brownsville Community Development Corporation
- Churches United for Fair Housing
- Community Services Housing Development Corporation
- Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, Inc.
- Cypress Hills Child Care Corporation
- Northeast Brooklyn Housing Development Corporation
- Southside United Housing Development Fund Corporation (Los Sures)
- Trey Whitfield School
- Urban Health Plan, Inc.
To see an ongoing listing of all our partners, please click here.
PRO BONO PARTNERSHIPS
Simpson Thacher & Bartlett LLP: Every four months an associate from the firm joins Brooklyn A’s CED team for an externship, helping to expand our capacity to provide transactional legal services. The extern works full-time (five days a week) and gains direct experience working on public interest law with the CED Program.
We partner with many firms on a pro-bono basis; see a full listing of all on-going pro-bono partnerships here.
Our attorneys provide legal representation and support for community-led efforts to remedy social and economic inequalities. Highlights have included:
Health and Jobs
Urban Health Plan, Inc.
On September 14, 2017, Brooklyn A’s CED Program closed on a $5.82M renovation/expansion project for our long-term client, Urban Health Plan, Inc. (UHP). UHP is in the process of renovating a portion of an existing two-story medical/retail building located at 866 East Tremont Avenue into a 7,400 sf space offering 10 new examination rooms, space for routine primary care, mammography, optometry, podiatry and health services (the “Project”).
The Project qualified for New Market Tax Credit (NMTC) financing since it is located in a “highly distressed” census tract as defined by the CDFI Fund, with a poverty rate of approximately 34.2%. The NMTC transaction was structured with a $6 million allocation of NMTCs from Nonprofit Finance Fund (NFF), enabling NFF to combine a low-interest leverage loan with an equity investment from Wells Fargo Bank to finance the Project. The CED team reviewed, drafted, and negotiated the lease agreement, construction contract, architect agreement, and various loan, mortgage and NMTC transaction documents. Additionally, we coordinated and advised on pre-development, title, and insurance matters and represented UHP in the closing. Once the Project renovation is complete, UHP will see an anticipated increase of 10,535 in patient visits in the first year of operation. the CED team will continue to support and advise UHP over the next few years, throughout the construction and operation of their newly renovated Bronx medical center, to improve the health and quality of life of low-income, underserved communities.
Brownsville Community Development Corporation
In the early 1990’s, Brooklyn A worked closely with the Brownsville Community Development Corporation (BCDC), also known as the Brownsville Multi-Service Family Health Center (BMS), in creating a community-based nonprofit health center. Brooklyn A assisted BCDC with accessing funding for the construction of this health care center through the use of the first New York State tax exempt bond financing for a Community Health Center. This financing model, innovatively utilized by Brooklyn A and our client, resulted in the creation of the Primary Care Development Corporation which has enabled BCDC and dozens of other health care centers to expand their facilities. BCDC provides critical health care services to thousands of individuals each year from eight different facilities – all of which have been created with Brooklyn A’s legal representation. Because of the expansion, BCDC has provided crucial health services in addition to becoming the second largest private employer in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn.
Through its recently completed project, “Moving Towards a 21st Century Medical Home,” the BCDC engaged in 2009-2013 in a multi-site capital expansion and improvement project to increase its primary care capacity in the high needs communities of Brownsville and East New York. The project involved the construction of a brand new dental site and a large satellite health center in East New York, and the renovation of existing health and wellness facilities. CED program representation of BCDC in this project involved the preparation and negotiations of architectural, construction and real estate documents as well as the structuring and preparation of the financing documents which blended the sources of public and private support for this large multi-site expansion undertaking. In addition to increasing access to high-quality services for more than 25,000 existing users, this project expanded services to over 14,000 additional users.
Cypress Hills Child Care Corp
Brooklyn A has represented CHCCC since its formation in 1990. CHCCC provides critically needed, safe, and affordable childcare to residents of Cypress Hills, a low and moderate income, predominantly Latino community in Northeast Brooklyn. It operates three programs: the Cypress Hills Family Day Care Network, through which it trans and supports neighborhood residents to open family day care businesses in their homes, refers parents to child care services, and provides family day care providers with subsidies to serve nutritious meals to low income children; its Head Start Program, which provides full day child care and comprehensive education, health, and parental involvement services to low-income families in the neighborhood; and the Cypress Hills Child Care Center, a full day care for families and Universal Pre-K for four year olds.
In 2016, our program represented CHCCC, which currently has a waiting list of approximately 100 children, in the acquisition of private land which will become the permanent home to its administrative office and enable it to serve approximately 90 additional daycare age children. Cypress Hills/East New York already faces a shortage of high-quality, affordable child care, and the problem stands to worsen as a result of the neighborhood’s recent rezoning, which will likely result in an increase in population. The acquisition of this land and the construction of a new approximately 12,200 sq. ft. building will provide key benefits to Cypress Hills, including better academic outcomes for children who attend the center and improved employment rates and job growth for parents, who will now be better-positioned to seek work knowing that their children are in a safe and affordable environment. The acquisition was funded, in part, by Local Initiatives Support Corporation, The Contact Fund LLC, The New York Pooled PRI Fund LLC, and the City of New York acting by and through its Economic Development Corporation (as a result of the support of Councilman Rafael Espinal). Brooklyn A has continued to represent CHCCC in the design phase of the project and will represent it in the construction finance closing in later 2018.
Made in Brownsville, Inc.
Made in Brownsville, Inc. (“MiB”) is a New York non-profit youth creative agency that teaches youth in Brownsville, Brooklyn design, art, multimedia, tech, and communication skills to help them succeed in a community that has a high concentration of public housing and a poverty rate that is double the rest of the City. MiB offers studio and mentorship programs in design, printmaking, painting, 3-D modeling and fabrication, photography, coding, graphic design, and video and animation. MiB was just a few months into a new five-year lease for the store-front space they were operating their organization our of in Brownsville when they were faced with a number of serious physical issues with their space, mostly caused by the condition of the roof. MiB reached out to BKA to see if there was any way they could get out of their lease, as the building conditions were disrupting their ability to conduct their operations. BKA evaluated MiB’s lease and presented a few options for MiB, and after taking BKA’s advice, they were able to successfully negotiate with their landlord a lease termination agreement. MiB found a new space and BKA is representing MiB in negotiations of their lease with the new landlord. BKA’s services will better enable MiB to carry out their services to the youth in the Brownsville community. Albert Kakudji, Chief Operating Officer of Made in Brownsville, reflected on their experiences with Brooklyn A: “the attorneys at Brooklyn Legal Services Corporation A are competent, professional, responsive, swift, sincere and great to work with!”
Cypress Hills Local Development Corporation, Inc.
In October 2015, Brooklyn A and CHLDC closed on the land acquisition and construction financing for Cypress Hills Senior Housing Project, which had been years in the making. Brooklyn A represented CHLDC in the title transfer/construction loan and low income housing tax credit syndication with Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the National Equity Fund (NEF). This project is the first affordable senior housing in the Cypress Hills neighborhood, and the last “Section 202” closing in the pipeline for the New York Office of HUD as it sunsets this program nationally. Construction of the project has been completed and the 53 new, affordable, and high quality one-bedroom apartments will be fully occupied shortly. The project received almost 2,000 applications for the 53 units. The ribbon cutting ceremony will take place in May 2018. The apartments have been rented to low-income senior citizens earning up to 50% of the Area Median Income as defined by HUD.
For the title transfer/construction financing phase of the project, Brooklyn A represented CHLDC in various pre-development aspects of the project, including the negotiation and drafting of a demolition and remediation contract, license agreements with the City of New York, the drafting and ongoing administration of their architect contact, the drafting of the construction contract, the preparation of the property management agreement, the formation of the various subsidiaries needed for the Project including the title holding Housing Development Fund Corporation, and the Limited Partnership for bringing low-income housing tax credits into the financing. The CED team continue to support and advise CHLDC throughout the construction and lease-up phase of the project. Brooklyn A will be representing CHLDC in the HPD permanent loan conversion and HUD final endorsement closings in 2018.
Eastville Comedy Club, Inc.
Brooklyn A’s first small business client under the recently launched Commercial Lease Assistance Program, part of the new Small Business Support Project, was EastVille Comedy Club, Inc., a comedy club that was located in the Lower East Side for the past 10 years and is co-owned by a husband-wife team. The couple has two children and had recently signed a lease for new space in the same neighborhood. Despite having negotiated a termination right in the event they faced a liquor license denial and an associated right to a full refund of all amounts paid to a landlord at lease signing, our client’s rights were disputed by landlord and its counsel. Brooklyn A became involved after our client faced an uncooperative and unresponsive landlord and was able to facilite our client’s exercise of the contractual rights they had negotiated in the lease agreement. With our client’s consent, Brooklyn A negotiated a settlement and termination agreement that secured the prompt return of the majority of the client’s deposit back to our client (representing an approximate 70% recovery of the original funds in dispute), and released the business and its owners from all further liability under the lease agreement and related guaranty. Regarding their experience working with Brooklyn A, the client noted that “Brooklyn A staff are smart, caring, diligent, and very competent.” Upon conclusion of the lease termination, our client asked Brooklyn A to represent them in the negotiation of a new lease for alternate premises in Brooklyn. Brooklyn A extensively negotiated a new lease agreement, assisting with property diligence, providing strategic input on commercial matters (including significant landlord build-out work on the new space and concessions to tenant’s build-out), and ensuring the lease terms are consistent with current market standards and do not place undue risk on our client.