212 Hegeman Avenue, developed by CAMBA Housing Ventures, Inc., transformed two vacant lots in Brownsville, Brooklyn, previously owned by the City of New York, into 71 much-needed transit-oriented, sustainable homes, including 70 affordable studio apartments and one one-bedroom home for the on-site superintendent. The development was completed in September 2020, and the 9 percent Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (Housing Credit) was used to finance the property.

The property provides affordable and supportive housing for low- and very low-income New Yorkers, including formerly chronically homeless individuals with serious mental illnesses, referred from streets or safe havens by the New York Department of Homeless Services. Hegeman’s distinctive design features complement the local design context and include brick window surrounds at the street façade, an ornate steel and glass entry canopy, generous window openings, cantilevered south facing sunshades and intensive landscaped areas at the cellar, 1st floor and roof setback areas.

Both to beautify the building and to honor and preserve the cultural and artistic legacy of Brownsville and Brooklyn, Hegeman issued and completed a local call for art that resulted in artwork from five Brooklyn-based artists, including art by Brownsville resident Jamal Ince, decorating the front lobby area and community room. The local art enlivens the building and connects Hegeman’s interior to its community and its history while empowering local artists during an unprecedented crisis for the arts. Hegeman was completed when Brownsville’s history and community were threatened by displacement and the COVID-19 pandemic, making these artistic connections, design choices, and landscape features that much more transformative for the neighborhood and residents.

The building features a large entry lobby, 24-hour security, lounge and mailbox area that connects to the outside courtyard and an open stair leading to the cellar, with access to the social services suite, community room, computer training center, public restroom, sunken courtyard, onsite laundry and bicycle storage. Tenants benefit from comprehensive on-site services provided by CAMBA, including financial literacy training, nutrition workshops, benefits advocacy, connections to job training programs, resume workshops, computer skills training, mental health groups and access to medical services.

Hegeman meets Enterprise Green Communities, NYSERDA and Energy Star standards and promotes healthy indoor air quality through non-toxic finishes and ventilation. Hegeman opened to become an anchor for the community in 2020, just when the Brownsville neighborhood most needed affordability, stability, and economic activity. By connecting individuals in shelters to their own permanent and private apartment, and providing much-needed access to supportive services, Hegeman helped protect these residents and the surrounding community from COVID-19.

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