Thursday, May 17, 2018

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Celebrates Construction of the First LGBT-Friendly Seniors Affordable Housing Development in the Bronx

Financed with State and New York City resources, developed by HELP USA, SAGE, $41.4 Million, 84-Apartment Affordable Development Features LGBT Support Services for Tenants; 26 Units Reserved for Homeless Elders

  New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas broke ground today for the Crotona Senior Residences, the first LGBT-friendly, low-income senior housing apartment building in the Bronx. Of the 84 apartments, 26 will be reserved for seniors who have been homeless. Any individual who is age and income-qualified can apply to live in Crotona Senior Residences regardless of sexual orientation or gender identification.

HCR Commissioner Visnauskas said “All New Yorkers deserve a safe, affordable home with the support and companionship that a robust community offers. Crotona Senior Residences will offer all of that while expanding its neighborhood’s diversity and strengthening its economy. We are proud to be working with SAGE and HELP USA to serve the needs of the aging LGBT community – and all seniors – here in the Bronx.”

Under construction in the Bronx’s Tremont neighborhood, the $41.4 million development reflects Governor Andrew M. Cuomo’s commitment to providing all New Yorkers with access to safe, affordable housing through the State’s unprecedented $20 billion, five-year Housing Plan. The plan makes housing accessible and combats homelessness by building and preserving more than 100,000 units of affordable housing and 6,000 of supportive housing.  The plan is a comprehensive approach to statewide housing issues and includes multifamily and single-family housing, community development, and rent stabilization.

The Crotona Senior Residences will have 84 apartments for very-low income tenants aged 62 years and older. An on-site SAGE Center, run by the nation’s largest and oldest organization dedicated to improving the lives of LGBT older adults, will provide health and cultural programs, meals, and a computer center. The SAGE Centers at the sites will be open to both building residents and community members, regardless of sexual orientation. SAGE will also offer social services for residents living in the 26 units targeted to homeless seniors.  Located in the Tremont section of the Bronx, with easy access to public transportation, pharmacies, grocery stores, and public parks, the seven-story building will feature energy efficient construction, including windows, fixtures, and an integrated solar array as well as a rooftop terrace and community garden.   

New York State Homes and Community Renewal provided $1.5 million through the Community Investment Fund. HCR’s annual federal tax credit allocation generated more than $16.7 million in equity for the development. The Community Preservation Corporation is providing $10 million in permanent financing through its funding agreement with the New York City Retirement System (NYCRS).

New York City’s Housing Preservation and Development SARA Program provided $10.2 million, including project-based Section 8 vouchers. This is a piece of Mayor Bill de Blasio’s 2016 Housing New York: A Five-Borough, 10-Year Housing Plan and the Mayor’s “Seniors First” initiative, developed to increase the amount of affordable housing programs for New York City seniors. The Office of the Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz, Jr. and the Office of New York City Councilman Ritchie Torres contributed $600,000 each.

Since 2011, in the Bronx HCR has financed 13,794 apartments in affordable multifamily developments – including 790 supportive units – with more than $982 million in HCR resources, which have leveraged more than $3 billion in other private and public sources.

President & CEO of HELP USA Tom Hameline says, “For 30 years, we’ve worked tirelessly to serve communities who are under-resourced and under-served. We are so proud to stand with SAGE and our partners at the state and city levels, as allies of New York’s LGBT population. A stable home and a supportive community can make all the difference, and we’re happy to provide both with this new development.”

This project is a continuation of HELP USA’s 30-year commitment to developing affordable housing with targeted services that ensure people remain housed. To date, the agency has developed 15 affordable housing programs across the country – with more than 950 units – which are home to underserved populations including veterans, survivors of domestic violence, people living with HIV, and the formerly homeless. HELP USA’s affordable housing developments can be found in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and Nevada.

“Crotona Senior Residences will provide crucial housing and supportive services to the many older New Yorkers who are in desperate need of an affordable place to live.  SAGE is thrilled to break ground on this development with our partners, HELP USA, and all of our supporters,” says SAGE CEO Michael Adams. “Finding welcoming housing is one of the most difficult challenges faced by our LGBT elders. Thanks to this development, many LGBT pioneers and allies who fought for recognition and civil rights will now have a place to live and thrive. This development will be more than a building – it will be a community of trailblazers.”

Across the nation, older people have extremely limited options for housing that is both LGBT welcoming and affordable. The Crotona Senior Residences, and the Ingersoll Senior Residences in Brooklyn, are part of SAGE’s National LGBT Elder Housing Initiative. Launched in 2015 to address the housing crisis faced by LGBT elders, the multi-year initiative encourages model inclusive housing like Ingersoll and Crotona, policy advocacy, consumer education, cultural competence training for providers, and technical assistance to communities seeking to address LGBT elder housing issues.  

“All seniors deserve the opportunity to thrive in a safe, accessible, and affordable environment. Crotona Senior Residences will create 84 welcoming homes for extremely low-income seniors and provide supportive services while creating a safe space for LGBT elders” said HPD Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer.  “I want to thank HELP USA, SAGE, and our partners in government for their collaboration in providing desperately needed affordable housing for our seniors who helped to build this city.”

"I sincerely commend HELP USA, SAGE, and all the agencies and organizations that have made the opening of the Crotona Senior Residences possible," said State Senator Gustavo Rivera. "The first of its kind in the Bronx, the Crotona Senior Residences provides affordable housing and support to LGBT seniors, a population that is often overlooked and under-served in our community. The hard work and contributions of these organizations will go a long way in helping us combat homelessness in our City, particularly within the LGBT community. I look forward to continued success and collaborative work with HELP USA and SAGE in my district."

"Today, SAGE and HELP USA have once again demonstrated their commitment to seniors and the LGBTQ community with the launch of the first affordable housing development for LGBT seniors in the Crotona Park North section of our district. It is an exciting step forward in advancing housing justice for some of the most vulnerable members of our community," said Assemblymember Michael Blake. "LGBT seniors face unique challenges as they are more susceptible to facing housing discrimination, slipping into homelessness and living in isolation. Every New Yorker deserves equal access to safe and affordable housing. As we make great strides in safeguarding civil rights for all, we remain committed to creating open, accepting and inclusive spaces in the Bronx where everyone, regardless of color, creed, religion or sexual orientation, can live and thrive. Living comfortably without discrimination and supporting LGBT seniors is how we continue #BuildingABetterBronx."

“Creating affordable housing units for our LGBTQ senior citizens is very important to me and to our community,” said Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr. “It is with great pleasure that I support the development of SAGE and HELP USA’s senior housing in the Bronx, and I am proud to have provided $600,000 in capital funding for construction of this worthy project.”

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