BY ARIEL HERNANDEZ
In an effort to decrease the number of seniors without housing in his district, Councilman Costa Constantinides (D-Astoria) has proposed the conversion of the neighborhood’s Broadway Municipal Parking Field into an affordable senior housing residential building.
According to LiveOn New York, a nonprofit organization dedicated to advocating for senior New Yorkers, there are more than 200,000 seniors on waiting lists for housing in District 22, the highest number in the city.
Constantinides argued that the 200,000-square-foot parking field—which is located at 31-07 31st St.—could be home to a building of approximately 100 to 150 affordable housing units.
“Our city is undergoing an affordable housing crisis, with rents rising and many unable to stay in their neighborhoods,” said Constantinides. “We must make sure that we foster inclusive community development and keep our neighborhood affordable for seniors who want to stay in the neighborhood they call home by actively seeking opportunities to build more affordable housing units.”
On Jan. 21, Constantinides sent a letter to Alicia Glen, the deputy mayor for Housing and Economic Development, stating that it is his “priority to seek out potential sites for affordable housing developments,” given the need in western Queens.
“Our senior citizens are, perhaps, the most vulnerable group in the midst of our affordability crisis,” he wrote. “Social Security income struggles to merely keep up with inflation, let alone the city’s rise in the cost of living and housing. This leaves our seniors in a position of weakness—forcing them to choose between the city they love and have contributed to for years and their financial security.”
Constantinides said that he believes the parking field is the right fit for senior housing due to the rectangular shape of the site, access to public transportation, a nearby supermarket and local shops, and the commercial corridor.
“It’s a bustling neighborhood with many amenities that offers a robust quality of life,” the letter read.
Although the change in land use conforms with the City Council’s Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) agreement—which encourages growth of senior affordable housing—to convert the field into senior affordable housing, the project would have to go through the city’s Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP).
“Giving seniors the opportunity to afford to live in their neighborhoods creates inclusive communities and addresses our city’s affordability crisis,” said John Kaiteris, executive director of the Hellenic American Neighborhood Action Committee (HANAC). “Astoria is in desperate need of new affordable senior housing units.”
Constantinides said that he will continue to take feedback from community stakeholders and his partners in government throughout the process of bringing his proposal to fruition.
Reach Ariel Hernandez at (718) 357-7400, ext. 144, firstname.lastname@example.org or @reporter_ariel.