Photo via NYC.GOV
Mayor de Blasio announced yesterday a new housing program, “Seniors First,” that aims to double the city’s commitment to senior housing over the mayor’s extended 12-year Housing New York plan, with the goal of serving 30,000 senior households by 2026. This isn’t the first time de Blasio has turned his focus to the affordable housing challenges for seniors; earlier this year he announced plans for two initiatives, including an Elder Rent Assistance program that would provide 25,000 seniors with monthly rental assistance of up to $1,300. And jumping on the bandwagon, too, are private developers. The Wall Street Journal reports that a Florida-based private-equity firm purchased a high-profile Brooklyn Heights apartment building–previously belonging to the Jehovah’s Witnesses–for about $200 million with plans to convert it into luxury senior housing.
A report released this spring by Comptroller Scott Stinger pointed out how New York City’s population is getting older. Today, more than 1.1 million adults over 65, nearly 13 percent of the city’s total population, live in the five boroughs, and that number is expected to rise to over 1.4 million by 2040.
Stringer made policy recommendations in regards to creating safe affordable housing, like automatically enrolling eligible senior renters in the Senior Citizens Rent Increase exemption program. This year, Mayor de Blasio has shown he has goals to increase the stock of senior housing being built as part of his larger plan to build or preserve thousands of affordable units.
Photo via Gary Knight/Flickr
The “Seniors First” initiative is multi-pronged, according to the mayor’s office. For one, the city plans to invest $150 million to make more homes accessible to seniors and people with disabilities. There are also plans to build new 100 percent affordable developments on underused public, private and NYCHA sites, and also preserve aging senior housing.
As for the most immediate step of the new initiative, the city will seek proposals for 100-percent affordable senior buildings totaling 300 new homes on three underused NYCHA sites. Those include the Sotomayor Houses (in the Bronx), the Bushwick Houses (in Brooklyn), and the Baruch Houses (in the Lower East Side).
This is the third new initiative that’s part of the mayor’s plan to accelerate the creation and preservation of affordable housing across the city by financing 200,000 affordable homes by 2022, and expand that goal to 300,000 affordable homes by 2026. His two major affordable housing initiatives for seniors, announced this February, include allocating $1.9 billion for 10,000 new apartments reserved for households earning less than $40,000, 5,000 of which will be set aside for seniors and 500 for veterans. The second implements the new Elder Rent Assistance program, to be funded by the city’s proposed Mansion Tax.
21 Clark Street, the brick building toward the left, via Reading Tom/Flickr Creative Commons
As far as the aforementioned plans for the former Jehovah’s Witness building at 21 Clark Street in Brooklyn Heights (previously known as the Leverich Towers Hotel), the rental apartments will be reserved for New Yorkers ages 65 and up. The developer, Kayne Anderson Real Estate, plans to accommodate those just looking for a place to reside, as well as those who need medical care. “We will literally be overrun with demand,” Al Rabil, chief executive of Kayne Anderson Real Estate, told the WSJ. “There is an urban clientele that absolutely wants to be in high-end senior housing and is not looking to relocate.”
- De Blasio’s 2017 affordable housing plan includes $1.9B for 10,000 new units and Elder Rent Assistance program
- Comptroller Scott Stringer lays out plan for NYC to invest in its seniors
- Everything you need to know about affordable housing: applying, getting in, and staying put