By Anna Gustafson
Queens and federal officials celebrated the groundbreaking of an eight-story housing complex for low-income seniors in Electchester last week and feted the development as a much-needed addition to a borough with long waiting lists for affordable residences.
“Residents in our borough and city face overwhelming obstacles in finding affordable housing,” Borough President Helen Marshall said at the groundbreaking ceremony last Thursday. “Establishing this affordable housing will have a great impact on quality of life for our seniors.”
Council Towers VI will be built on 71st Avenue between Kissena and Parsons boulevards and provide 78 units for very low-income seniors who are able to live independently. Amenities will include a community room and outdoor seating area. The building will have two elevators and technology aimed at keeping the elderly individuals safe, including video intercoms, grab bars, emergency pull cords and handicapped adaptability.
Met Council, an organization dedicated to preserving and expanding affordable housing, will oversee the development. Land for the site was provided by the New York City Housing Authority and funding for Council Towers VI was given by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, the city Housing Development Corp., the city Department of Housing and the Federal Home Loan Bank Board of New York.
“This is the culmination of a lot of hard work by a lot of people,” U.S. Rep. Anthony Weiner (D-Forest Hills) said. “We are recognizing a big need people have.”
Met Council CEO William Rapfogel said the groundbreaking represented a development long wanted by affordable housing advocates in Queens and the city.
“Met Council is proud to be part of the important work of providing affordable housing to seniors in New York City because it is one of the great unmet needs in our nation,” Rapfogel said.
State Sen. Toby Stavisky (D-Whitestone) said the development is especially needed in the Electchester area, where there is a large population of seniors.
“About one-third of my district is made up of people over the age of 62, and it’s a rapidly growing population,” Stavisky said. “We get a lot of requests for housing and we have to say there’s a waiting list.”
State Assemblywoman Nettie Mayersohn (D-Flushing), a 50-year resident of Electchester, lauded the Met Council for its persistence in ensuring more affordable housing would come to Queens.
“This project will provide Met Council an opportunity to bring its many services to our community,” Mayersohn said.
Assemblyman Rory Lancman (D-Fresh Meadows) and City Councilman Leroy Comrie (D-St. Albans), who spoke on behalf of Councilman Jim Gennaro (D-Fresh Meadows), also praised the development, saying it will help to bring seniors peace of mind knowing they will not be priced out of their community.
“It will provide them not just a place to live, but a quality of life,” Lancman said.
City Housing Authority Chairman John Rhea said he was pleased to work with other agencies to bring the development to fruition.
“Because HUD, Met Council and our sister agencies HPD and HDC worked together, seniors of NYCHA’s Pomonok Houses will have first preference on a number of the new apartments, with seniors at other NYCHA developments having second preference on a number of set-aside units.”
Reach reporter Anna Gustafson by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.