Unique Partnership Leads to New Senior Housing in Queens, NY

[Photo: NYCHA Chairman John Rhea, Council resident Lauretta Fodera, and Acting Regional Administrator Mirza Orriols]
NYCHA Chairman John Rhea, Council resident Lauretta Fodera, and Acting Regional Administrator Mirza Orriols

The shortage of vacant land in New York City has lead to a unique public-private partnership that helped to create needed affordable elderly housing in Queens, New York. The partnership, consisting of an experienced non-profit group, the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), HUD, and the Enterprise Foundation, worked painstakingly for over a decade to get site control, waivers, meet various environmental standards, and obtain the necessary funding. That is why the opening of the new senior development, sponsored by the Met Council, was such a relief and joy. Deputy Regional Administrator Mirza Orriols joined with Met Council CEO William Rapfogel, New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) Chairman John Rhea, New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Mathew M. Wambua, and Enterprise Deputy Director Victoria Shire to celebrate the opening of Council Towers VI on February 21st. The building is the Council's sixth development under HUD's Section 202 program.

"HUD has no higher mission than improving people's lives and strengthening communities, and this wonderful senior development does just that," said Mirza Orriols, HUD Deputy Regional Administrator. "The latest statistics indicate that one in five New York City residents live in poverty, many of whom, unfortunately, are the elderly living on meager pensions or income. That is why nonprofit groups like the Met Council are so important in providing our elderly with decent, safe and affordable housing. HUD is proud to be part of this wonderful public-private initiative and, as such, we salute our partners, the Met Council, NYCHA, HPD, the NYC Housing Development Corporation (HDC) and the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York for their dedication in creating and preserving affordable housing in this great city."

Council Towers VI is an eight-story building located in Flushing, Queens with 77 one-bedroom rental units and one unit reserved for an on-site superintendent. Twenty-five percent of the units have a preference for existing NYCHA tenants. All units have a senior preference for tenants age 62 and older. The units will be available to tenants earning no more than 50 percent Area Median Income (AMI) or $28,650 for an individual. The tenant's rent will be set at 30% household income.

The scarcity of vacant land in New York City has made it very difficult for nonprofits to build needed low-income senior housing. Before nonprofits can act, developers gobble up vacant properties as soon as they are on the market. HUD has therefore been supportive of nonprofits to think creatively in trying to secure vacant properties. This development is a case in point. The agreement between NYCHA and the Met Council is a true quid-pro-quo: The land (formerly a parking lot) was given to Met Council by NYCHA for a nominal price. In exchange, the Met Council set aside 25 percent of the 77 units for NYCHA's elderly residents -- most of whom live in large family units, thus freeing up these units for families on NYCHA's waiting list -- a true win-win for everyone involved.

"New Yorkers, indeed all Americans, are living longer and as a society we have to better prepare for their needs as they grow more vulnerable and frail," explains William E. Rapfogel, Met Council CEO and Executive Director. "By helping our clients find a secure, safe and stable place to live, we empower them to have a better quality of life. We are so grateful to HUD, the Housing Authority, HPD, HDC and other government agencies and elected leaders that support our mission of bringing affordable housing to communities in need."

Residents of Council Towers VI have access to a variety of on-site services. Management staff will provide case management, benefits and entitlements advice and advocacy as well as on-site education and recreational activities. An experienced social worker will serve as a support service coordinator. Staff will be equipped to refer tenants to off-site licensed healthcare agencies to provide home care, adult daycare, hospital services, medical education, and nursing home options. Additional on-site services include Meals-On-Wheels, housekeeping assistance, counseling and recreational trips. Through New York State Department of Transportation, Met Council provides transportation for the elderly to essential appointments and recreational outings.

HDC provided construction financing in a HDC First Mortgage amount of $10.2 million. The HDC First Mortgage will be paid down at conversion and is not counted in the total development cost. The total development cost of the project is nearly $20 million. HUD provided funding under Section 202 in the amount of $11.16 million as well as a HUD Predevelopment Grant of $397,000. The HPD provided approximately $1.8 million through the federal HOME Loan program, and the Federal Home Loan Bank Board of New York contributed $770,000 in permanent financing. Federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits (LITHC) in the amount of approximately $5.8 million will be provided through Enterprise Community Partners.


Content Archived: May 20, 2014