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NYCHA Helps to Provide Affordable Housing for Seniors

The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) is doing its part to contribute to the Mayor's affordable housing initiative while addressing the needs of one of its fastest growing populations-seniors. NYCHA General Manager Douglas Apple along with several other city, state and federal agency representatives convened at the Kings County Senior Residence in Crown Heights, Brooklyn on June 25th to celebrate its official opening with a ribbon-cutting ceremony.

Dept. for the Aging Commissioner (left) and NYCHA General Manager (right)
NYCHA GM, Douglas Apple (right) is pleased to once again collaborate with DFTA Commissioner Edwin Mendez-Santiago (left) on a senior housing initiative.
Photo credit: Kevin Devoe

Collaborative financing from various levels of government was required to bring the residence into being. "We looked at ways we can get around our own bureaucracy, and now we have this beautiful development to show for it," said Department for the Aging Commissioner Edwin Méndez-Santiago, who was one of the guest speakers at the ribbon cutting ceremony.

Many of the speakers paid homage to Council Member emeritus Una Clarke, who was also in attendance, for foreseeing the need for residences where independent seniors could continue to live comfortably in their communities. NYCHA General Manager Douglas Apple said one of the biggest challenges that NYCHA faces is finding ways to help our senior residents age-in-place and continue to thrive in their communities. Seniors, or those ages 62 and over, are listed as head of household for a full 34.5 percent of NYCHA units.

NYCHA is playing an important role in the development of the Kings County Senior Residence by providing project-based Section 8 vouchers for all 172 apartments in the residence, so that residents will only have to pay 30 percent of their income toward the rent. Also if a resident decides to move to another location, NYCHA will maintain the Section 8 voucher for the apartment, as well as issue a voucher to the relocating resident to help him/her find affordable housing in another location of their choice.

Residents of Kings County Senior Residence
Eliza Laing (far left) is living comfortably and making new friends at the Kings County        Senior Residence.
Photo credit: Kevin Devoe

Eliza Laing, who has been living in the new six-story senior development for a few months, said she is very pleased with her new home. "I like the privacy I have now, and the rooms are large enough," said Ms. Laing who used to live with her adult son in a studio apartment in Crown Heights. She said she also enjoys the friendships she's developing with the other residents and staff.

The development has on-site staff that helps with housekeeping, recreational activities and home health care. The location of the new senior residence, which is in between the Susan B. McKinney Nursing Home and Kings County Hospital Center, adds peace of mind to residents and their families alike should the need for medical assistance arise.

NYCHA has already made significant strides in addressing the needs of its aging residents. In 2005, NYCHA partnered with community organizations to develop the PSS/Grandparent Family Apartments in the Bronx. This first of its kind development is home to grandparents who are the primary caregivers of grandchildren or other relatives under the age of 21. There is also another NYCHA senior residence that is in the development stages and will be located on the grounds of Stapleton Houses in Staten Island. The new building, which is scheduled for completion in the fall of 2009 will include 105 apartments for low-income seniors.

By Tischelle George
June 26, 2007