By Bill Parry
Such is the state of paranoia in Queens over the city’s proposals for homeless shelters and that even rumors of one in Astoria brought out a U.S. congressman to help elected officials set the record straight. Related Companies purchased Marine Terrace in June for $121 million and announced it would preserve and renovate the 441-unit Section 8 affordable housing complex, improving kitchens, bathrooms, windows, security doors, roofs and outdoor spaces at a cost of $49 million.
Related Companies also pledged to build two structures with 53 additional affordable units, which it can construct as-of-right with no zoning change. These additional units will be reserved for veterans, 42 of which will go to low-income veterans and 11 will have a preference specifically to formerly homeless veterans.
The real estate firm sent representatives to a Community Board 1 meeting last Oct. 20 to dispel the rumors that the additional two buildings that will be constructed would serve as a homeless shelter. On Tuesday, U.S. Rep. Joseph Crowley (D-Jackson Heights) and state Sen. Jose Peralta (D-East Elmhurst) joined City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria), at the complex on the northern end of Astoria Park along Shore Boulevard, to reiterate their support for the project.
“There’s been a lot of rumors circulating about this particular development, including that this might be a homeless shelter,” Constantinides said. “We’re just here to say don’t believe the rumors. We are here to talk about the truth.”
He called the lack of affordable housing in Astoria the No. 1 complaint in phone calls to his office each day. Constantinides added that Marine Terrace has been a Section 8 housing complex for 30 years, and the renewal by Related would allow the complex to remain Section 8 housing for another 30 years.
Section 8 is a program that provides assistance to eligible low- and moderate-income families to rent housing in the private market.
“We are proud to see that happen and we support our veterans in our neighborhoods,” Constantinides said.
Crowley called Related’s plan a win-win-win.
“That is where we have a responsible developer in Related Companies purchase dilapidated, affordable housing and commit to refurbishing that housing and investing in our community,” he said. “And the construction of these new units for veterans is what it’s all about. Sadly, too many of our nation’s heroes are without a roof over their heads or they’re struggling to find a place to live and that’s a national tragedy, not just here in Queens and New York.”
Peralta called Related a responsible corporation and thanked them for being a part of the solution to the city’s affordable housing crisis.
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr