An affordable housing development in Jamaica is providing seniors of all backgrounds in Queens with living space that is clean, safe and enables them to age gracefully, but just as importantly is affordable.
A ribbon-cutting ceremony last week marked the completion of an annex that adds an additional 158 units to Northeastern Towers, including 56 homes for formerly homeless seniors.
It is comprised of 58 studios and 100 one-bedroom apartments, each designed with the mobility of its residents in mind.
There are two sets of wide elevator doors on each floor and handrails lining the hallways. It also has amenities, including an exercise and wellness center, gardens, personal care room, and an office for social services.
Through the Housing Choice Voucher program, tenants will pay only 30 percent of their income in rent.
“We are delivering on our promise to put seniors first and create deeply affordable housing with on-site services to help them age with dignity,” said Louise Carroll, commissioner of the Department of Housing Preservation and Development.
District attorney Melinda Katz allocated $3 million in discretionary capital funding while serving as borough president to the project, which allowed for the inclusion of a solar canopy, roof deck, and other amenities that will support seniors.
“This project is a shining example of what can be accomplished when local government and community organizations work together,” she said.
The Northeastern Towers Annex fits with the broader initiative of addressing housing instability among low-income New Yorkers that is partially due to gentrification and rising rents. It was financed jointly by the HPD and HDC with a total of $93.6 million in public and private investment.
“No senior should ever be priced out of the neighborhood they love and proudly call home,” said current borough president Donovan Richards. “With more than 300,000 seniors living here in The World’s Borough, we look forward to more such ribbon cuttings as we work tirelessly to make sure that Queens is an affordable place to live for all, but especially our seniors.”
The project broke ground in 2018. Approximately 90 percent of the apartments are already rented.
“If you have the land, you should certainly be looking to model and duplicate this because we need to get ahead of the problem that we have over 60,000 people sleeping in shelters tonight,” said Richards. “We know when this eviction moratorium is lifted in September, we are going to see these numbers jump astronomically.”
Stephen Julty, 63, is a native New Yorker and one of the first to move into the annex. He said his new home is much better than the assisted living facility he was placed in by a hospital before being accepted to Northeastern Towers.
“I’m very emotional right now,” he said. “I realize how lucky I am as I hear the numbers, considering that I’m one of 28,000 applicants to this building.”
One of the building’s standout features is its central air conditioning system and the ample amount of natural light in each room, two features that are less likely for low-income seniors living in rent-stabilized apartments.
The project was developed in partnership with the Northeastern Conference of Seventh-Day Adventists, Fifth Avenue Committee and Mega Development.
“May the North Eastern Towers Annex and original building, be a great representative of Christ’s ministry, in healing, preaching, teaching,” said Pastor Ted N.C. Wilson, who is president of the Seventh-Day Adventist World Church. “Let us remember that we are to do that which is right in helping people here in the city.”