1,000 new affordable units for NYCHA seniors on the way, Gov. Cuomo says

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Sunday that 1,000 new affordable units -- specifically for seniors -- will be constructed, although he did not specify when or where.
Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced Sunday that 1,000 new affordable units — specifically for seniors — will be constructed, although he did not specify when or where. Photo Credit: Linda Rosier

The state will finance 1,000 new affordable housing units for seniors on underutilized NYCHA property in Brooklyn, Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced Sunday.

The units, part of Cuomo’s $1.4 billion Vital Brooklyn initiative for central Brooklyn, will be funded with federal low-income housing tax credits and built on NYCHA-owned land for NYCHA seniors and others who are at least 62 years old. The 100-percent affordable units will rent to tenants earning 60 percent or less of the area median income — about $43,860 for a single household.

“Housing is everything. Housing is the base. Housing is the place where family comes together to be safe. A house is a home, that is the sanctuary,” said Cuomo at the Mount Lebanon Baptist Church in Bedford-Stuyvesant during a lengthy stump speech that targeted President Donald Trump and systemic social injustices.

“If you can’t live safely, decently, then you cannot start to build a family and build your life,” Cuomo said. “As we sit here today there’s less affordable housing and we have more homeless than ever before.”

Cuomo also took aim at the current state of NYCHA — “a national disgrace” for its lead paint and heating scandals — and what he described as the city’s failure to substantively address its housing crisis, “failing schools” and prison system.

The governor said his senior housing initiative draws inspiration from the Redwood Senior Living project, a roughly 80-unit elderly housing development built on a public housing parking lot in East New York.

“We know how to provide senior housing,” Cuomo continued. “Redwood shows how to provide senior housing. We just need to do more of it.”

Cuomo is eyeing $15 million in low-income housing tax credits to finance the new senior units to be built on 11 NYCHA sites. It’s not immediately clear where or when the units will be built in central Brooklyn. Homes and Community Renewal, a state agency, will oversee the project and review “underutilized” NYCHA property “on a rolling basis . . . as NYCHA makes properties available through its disposition process,” according to a news release from the governor’s office.

“The Governor’s attention to NYCHA is new — and likely brought on by the pressure he’s feeling from his primary challenge,” said Lauren Hitt, a spokeswoman for Cynthia Nixon, who is challenging Cuomo in the Democratic primary for governor. “While he’s promised money before, it often hasn’t been effectively used and sometimes the money hasn’t appeared at all.”

Representatives from Metro IAF New York, an advocacy coalition for low-income New Yorkers, joined the governor for his announcement and praised his commitment.

“Our seniors are sleeping on the sofas of their children. Our seniors, some of them, are living in homeless shelters,” the Rev. David K. Brawley said. “We heard a few months ago [about] a senior who had to make a decision every month between paying her rent and eating food. Our seniors, who have built this city, ought to be able to live their golden years with dignity and respect.”