On November 29, 2018, New York Governor Andrew M. Cuomo announced four winning proposals that will collectively create more than 2,700 100-percent affordable homes in central Brooklyn with apartments and supportive services for the developmentally disabled, individuals aging out of foster care, and chronically homeless families.
This large-scale residential redevelopment will advance the Vital Brooklyn initiative’s $578 million commitment to build 4,000 units of affordable housing, as announced here in the May 15, 2018 issue of REVITALIZATION.
“Expanding access to affordable housing is a critical component of the Vital Brooklyn initiative to reverse the chronic social, economic, and health disparities in Central Brooklyn,” Governor Cuomo said. “With the addition of thousands of new homes, we are helping to ensure that our neighbors have high quality places to live and continuing our efforts to build a brighter future for Central Brooklyn.”
“We’re investing in affordable housing projects across the state to ensure all New Yorkers have an affordable, quality place to live,” said Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul. “As part of our Vital Brooklyn initiative, we’re addressing critical needs in the community including new housing, educational programs, healthy food options, violence prevention, and more. We are committed to continuing to grow the local economy and provide opportunities for the residents of Brooklyn.”
In August, the Governor announced an additional 1,000 affordable apartments targeted to seniors living in New York City Housing Authority developments that will be built on underutilized NYCHA property in Central Brooklyn, and build on the RFPs that will lead to the creation of 3,000 affordable homes. Governor Cuomo also announced in August new actions to increase access to nutritious foods and address chronic food insecurity and health disparities in central Brooklyn communities. He added to that announcement with a $1.825 million investment in new mobile markets, food insecurity screening for seniors, youth run farmers markets, community gardens, and a food distribution hub siting study to help ensure local communities have the ability to purchase fresh, local foods, and have the support they need for healthier lifestyles.
In July, Governor Cuomo announced a $3.1 million investment to renovate and transform eight community gardens and deliver a much-needed direct water connection to 14 others, to be completed by fall of 2019. This month, he also announced a new 407-acre park along Jamaica Bay that will be named after Shirley Chisholm, a Brooklyn native and the first African American Congresswoman. Prior to that, the Governor announced flagship ambulatory care sites and partnerships with six Brooklyn-based federally qualified health centers to form the foundation of its $210 million, 32-site ambulatory care network.
The Governor launched the Vital Brooklyn initiative in spring 2017, presenting the community with an array of options to create a new model for community development and wellness. The Governor then charged each Assembly Member in Central Brooklyn with convening a Community Advisory Council consisting of community leaders, local experts, advocates, and other stakeholders to assess these options—and to consider the unique needs and opportunities of their district. State Senators representing parts of central Brooklyn were also actively engaged in the process. Over several months, the Community Advisory Councils assembled in the community to participate in focused discussions with state agencies, empowering communities to program and to direct the committed state resources. Since the launch of the initiative, a total of 25 community meetings have brought together nearly 100 key community stakeholders. Today’s announcements were developed through and informed by this robust community-based planning effort.
Central Brooklyn is one of the most vulnerable areas in all of New York State, with measurably higher rates of obesity, Type 2 diabetes and high blood pressure, limited access to healthy foods or opportunities for physical activity, high rates of violence and crime, wide economic disparities due to unemployment, and high poverty levels, and inadequate access to high quality health care and mental health services.
Winners of First Affordable Housing RFPs:
Apex Building Company, L+M Development Partners, RiseBoro Community Partnership and Services for the Underserved (SUS) have been selected to purchase and redevelop the former Brooklyn Developmental Center under Vital Brooklyn’s affordable housing initiative. The development will provide more than 2,400 units of affordable housing, with 45 percent of those available to households earning up to 50 percent of Area Median Income, including approximately 207 units for formerly homeless individuals and families, approximately 185 units for intellectually and developmentally disabled individuals, approximately 156 units for seniors and a $1.2 billion investment in East New York. None of the units will be available to households earning more than 80 percent of AMI.
The development will include workforce development and outreach to place local residents in construction jobs at Jamaica Bay Landing, and seven community partners will provide job training and entrepreneurship programs. The project is based on ‘blue zones’ planning, modeled after communities worldwide that have the longest lifespans, and includes 11.3 acres of public open space consisting of a retail main street, civic plaza, garden corridor, residential courtyards, a maritime grove fitness loop and productive zones.
Longstanding Brooklyn non-profit CAMBA has been selected to develop “Interfaith Broadway: Site C” as part of Vital Brooklyn’s affordable housing initiative. CAMBA will transform Site C, on grounds owned by One Brooklyn Health, creating 57 apartments affordable to a variety of income levels, and on-site services for seniors and chronically homeless families.
The development on Site C will feature a host of amenities including 24-hour security, bicycle storage, community and fitness rooms, Green Building features that promote healthy living and save energy such as rooftop solar panels, covered parking spaces, and more. A Community Facility Annex in a nearby building will provide residents with access to a workforce development training center, Community Supported Agriculture drop-off point for healthy food, and Neighbors Together meal delivery for elderly residents.
In addition, CAMBA will develop customized on-site service plans in financial literacy, job-readiness, healthy living, and substance abuse. There will also be opportunities for residents to engage in movie nights, arts & crafts, as well as service provision LGBT Elders.
Vital Brookdale, LLC, a joint venture between MDG Design + Construction, Smith & Henzy Advisory Group, and the Foundling Group has been selected to develop one of four sites under Vital Brooklyn’s affordable housing initiative. Vital Brookdale, LLC will transform “Brookdale Hospital: Site B” on grounds owned by One Brooklyn Health, creating 152 apartments affordable to a variety of income levels, and on-site services for the developmentally disabled and individuals aging out of foster care.
Site B is a 40,000 square foot lot, located across from the Brookdale Medical Center, and abuts four-story row houses and a 20-story building on Hegeman Avenue. The development will provide supportive services to developmentally disabled residents living in a subset of the 152 apartments and to people aging out of the foster care system living in another subset of the apartments. Services will include meal planning and nutrition, socialization assistance, and computer use training, among other supports.
The development will feature a computer room, a theater, a kitchen for cooking classes, and entertainment and community rooms. It will house a variety of commercial and community facility uses which may include Community Supported Agriculture access and a Greenhouse, a Daycare/Pre-K facility, and/or an Education and Job Training Center. There will be a second floor terrace with a central plaza, community garden, outdoor seating, and playground, and a seventh floor rooftop viewing terrace. The entire surface of the rooftop will contain solar panels to generate electricity onsite, providing environmental benefits and cost-savings.
Federation of Organizations has been selected to develop one of four sites under Vital Brooklyn’s affordable housing initiative. The nonprofit, a community-based social wellness agency that provides health, supportive and housing services on Long Island and in New York City, will create 119 affordable homes on a 21,000 square foot lot across the street from Interfaith Medical Center known as “Interfaith Herkimer: Site A.”
The development will provide housing for seniors, including a set aside for frail and elderly seniors who will receive on-site supportive services. Space on the ground floor will be used for food assistance programs. Social workers, case managers and nurses will also operate on site. A terrace on the second floor will have seating and offer exercise classes, and another on the seventh floor will feature an urban farm. The building will be constructed to Passive House Standards and will include solar shades and a green roof.
LaRay Brown, CEO & President, Interfaith Medical Center, Inc., said, “Affordable and accessible housing and health are intrinsically linked. One Brooklyn Health System, Inc. looks forward to working closely with the organizations that have been selected to develop housing as part of the Vital Brooklyn Initiative.”
Congresswoman Yvette D. Clarke said, “These affordable housing RFPs are yet another significant milestone in our efforts to build a better Brooklyn for our residents. Every New Yorker deserves access to safe, quality housing, and these RFP winners will provide much-needed housing that will greatly help vulnerable populations in Central Brooklyn. I thank Governor Cuomo and all of our state and local leaders for helping make it happen.”
Senator Roxanne Persaud said, “Governor Cuomo’s Vital Brooklyn initiative has brought unprecedented change to our borough. With today’s announcement, thousands of Brooklynites will be ensured a safe, comfortable place to call home. I thank the Governor for his continued support across our community.”
Senator Martin Malave Dilan said, “Governor Cuomo has been fighting for the most vulnerable among us since day one of his administration, and today’s announcement is no different. Providing affordable housing opportunities to those in need in Brooklyn will be an economic game changer for our communities. Thank you to Governor Cuomo for your leadership and commitment to fighting to make our state a better place.”
Assembly Member Walter T. Mosley said, “Through Governor Cuomo’s Vital Brooklyn initiative, we are continuing to make progress toward ensuring that the people of Brooklyn have equal access to safe, affordable housing. Our community deserves quality affordable housing options that can make a real difference in the lives of so many residents in need. I applaud the administration and my colleagues for their commitment to creating a healthier, more prosperous Brooklyn.”
Assembly Member Tremaine Wright said, “Every New Yorker deserves access to a safe, affordable and healthy living environment especially as they age. Governor Cuomo’s Vital Brooklyn Initiative has been critical to the growth and prosperity of communities throughout Brooklyn and these new affordable senior apartments will ensure our residents have a safe place to call home. I applaud Governor Cuomo for his commitment to community-based economic development and his continued commitment to Brooklyn.”
Assembly Member Latrice Walker said, “I’m proud to partner with Governor Cuomo in the remarkable transformation of central Brooklyn for those who just want to live in the neighborhood they grew up in. Between playgrounds and green space to ambulatory care and housing, the Vital Brooklyn initiative is helping to meet the needs of its residents and improving quality of life. These housing units are yet another win for Brooklyn, helping those who have fallen on hard times get back on their feet and thrive in the community they know and love.”
Assembly Member Diana Richardson said, “As a strong advocate for the Vital Brooklyn Initiative, I believe that every New Yorker deserves decent housing in their community. Supportive housing is critical to maintaining Brooklyn’s affordability. The Vital Brooklyn initiative continues to provide housing for Brooklynites who need it the most. I am proud to partner with Governor Cuomo, and I applaud his ongoing support for the central Brooklyn community.”
Assembly Member N. Nick Perry said, “Too many New Yorkers are in need when it comes to affordable housing, but thanks to the Vital Brooklyn Initiative and these affordable housing RFPs we are providing safe, affordable homes conducive to fostering a positive healthy living experience. Thanks to Governor Cuomo’s tireless and visionary efforts, Brooklyn will continue to grow and prosper.”
New York City Council Member Alicka Ampry-Samuel said, “Homelessness has been a blight on the Central Brooklyn community for far too long. By providing our most vulnerable residents with housing opportunities, we are one step closer to eradicating homelessness in our state once and for all. I commend Governor Cuomo for his dedicated work to ensure that all New Yorkers have a safe place to call home.”
New York City Council Member Robert Cornegy Jr. said, “The Vital Brooklyn initiative continues to bring unprecedented change to our borough, and these supportive housing units are yet another step toward a better Brooklyn for all. The impact of these housing solutions will impact the lives of thousands of families in this community, improving their quality of life and assisting them as they work to get back on their feet. I thank Governor Cuomo for bringing greater opportunity to Brooklynites throughout the borough.”
Featured photo (via Adobe Stock) shows a Brooklyn neighborhood with the Manhattan Bridge in the background.