By Bill Parry
The need for senior affordable housing in Astoria is so great that City Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) is willing to give up one of the neighborhood’s most precious resources: a public parking lot.
Noting that there are nearly 20,000 seniors on a waiting list for housing in his 22nd Council District — the highest number in the city and almost double the number in the second-highest district — Constantinides unveiled his proposal to convert the Broadway Municipal Parking Field into a residential building for 100 percent affordable senior housing units. Given the urgent need for senior housing, Constantinides recently proposed to build at least 500 new units of senior affordable housing before the end of his term in office in 2021.
“Our city is undergoing an affordable housing crisis, with rents rising and many unable to stay in their neighborhoods,” Constantinides said. “Our senior citizens are perhaps the most vulnerable group in the midst of out affordability crisis. We must make sure that we foster inclusive community development and keep our neighborhood affordable for seniors who want to stay in the neighborhood they call home by actively seeking opportunities to build more affordable housing units. This site is in a bustling area with many transit and local shopping amenities that offer a robust quality of life — a perfect environment to add new units of senior affordable housing.”
The parking field is more than 20,000 square feet large, which could fit between 100 and 150 affordable housing units. The lot is located along the medium-density 31st Street corridor and is less than 100 feet from the Broadway stop on the N/W subway line.
“Giving seniors the opportunity to afford to live in their neighborhoods creates inclusive communities and addresses our city’s affordability crisis,” Hellenic American Neighborhood Action Committee Executive Director John Kaiteris said. “Astoria is in desperate need of new affordable senior housing units. Councilman Constantinides’ proposal to build these new units in an area near transit and local shopping will improve quality of life for our seniors.”
Constantinides drafted a letter to Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Alicia Glen last week to outline his proposal. Converting the site into senior affordable housing would require going through the city’s Unified Land-Use Review Process, which includes input from the community and City Council. This change in land-use would conform with the City Council’s Zoning for Quality and Affordability agreement passed in 2016 which encourages the growth of senior affordable housing.
“We are only at the beginning of this long process,” Constantinides said. “As we move forward, I will continue to take feedback from community stakeholders and partners in government.”
The Very Rev. Patrick Keating, deputy chief executive officer of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens and affiliate agencies, said nearly 20,000 seniors are on the waiting list in the district.
“The need for affordable housing in New York City is overwhelming and must be addressed,” he said. “It is our obligation to do whatever we can do to provide affordable homes for a generation of aging New Yorkers in need who already gave so much to our great city.”
Reach reporter Bill Parry by e-mail at bparr