De Blasio announces Seniors First, an expanded plan to build 300,000 affordable homes

Mayor Bill de Blasio held a press conference at a senior housing development at 2629 Cropsey Avenue on Tuesday, October 31 to announce Seniors First, a slate of new affordable housing programs that will increase the amount of senior housing across the city.

With the initiative, the city will double its commitment to senior housing over the extended 12-year Housing New York plan, serving 30,000 senior households by 2026.

“For so many seniors in the city, it is very hard to make ends meet,” said de Blasio. “The cost of housing keeps going up. We love our city deeply and our Brooklyn, but we know it’s gotten more expensive than we ever could’ve imagined and so many seniors have very limited incomes. I’ve talked to a lots of seniors who have spent their whole lives working hard and never anticipated having to make such tough choices in their retirement years.”

He explained how to reach more seniors and how to help them stay in the neighborhoods they love, thanks, said de Blasio to, “A $150 million investment to make sure that apartments are not just affordable to seniors but safe as well, if someone happens to be in a wheelchair for example or any other reason that need those additional supports and safety measures,” he stressed.

The new plan includes 4,000 brand new senior apartments for the long haul, as well as 300 new homes in 100-percent affordable senior buildings on three underused NYCHA sites in the city. “We’re going to save the ones we have and build new ones for seniors,” de Blasio said.

Part of this is intervening in the federal HUD 202 program, which de Blasio described as, “A successful program that created lots of senior housing with federal money across the five boroughs.” However, despite the fact that older citizens benefited, said de Blasio, “The federal government walked away. When they walked away, those apartments were threatened for the long term. These are beautiful buildings but if they didn’t get financial support, they would eventually no longer be affordable. They would go to market rate.”

The city is bridging the gap, de Blasio said.

“Those federal affordable housing buildings that would be threatened to go to market rate and no longer be affordable to the residents, we are going to step in and provide the funds to keep them affordable for the long run and keep them where they belong,” he explained.

“We will keep putting in the funds, especially for seniors, because you’ve always stood by this city and helped it in tough times,” he added. “Now the city has to stand by you.”

JoAnne Montalvo, a resident of the building where the conference was held, is one who has benefited from the affordable housing.

“I’ve lived in this building for 10 years and I’m very blessed to be here,” she said. “I wish more people had this experience and I hope we have more affordable housing for all people, especially seniors.  Before I lived here, I lived in Brighton Beach on the fourth floor and I had to walk up those stairs. Then when I got sick, I couldn’t walk so I was called to come to this building. It happened at the right time. I was fortunate.”

Local elected officials applauded the move.

“I’ve been gratified over the past year by the great progress we’ve made in moving our housing agenda forward on both the city and state levels to ensure that seniors in Brooklyn and all throughout our city and state are taken care of,” said Assemblymember Steven Cymbrowitz.

“We need affordable housing tailored to the needs of our aging parents and grandparents, and this initiative will address many priorities that landlords across the city are failing to address,” agreed Councilmember Vincent Gentile.

“Our city’s seniors, the cornerstones of our communities, have earned the dignity and security of an affordable home in the neighborhoods they helped make great, a home they can enjoy well into their golden years,” added Borough President Eric Adams in a statement.

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