BY LUIS GRONDA
In one of the many roles they play for the Borough’s elderly, they often help find housing, or at least lead them in the right direction.
Susan Shafer, the program manager at the Catholic Charities Bayside Senior Center, said how they help seniors depends on what they are looking for and their financial situation.
She said they often have case managers who sit down and help fill out housing applications if necessary.
Real estate agents are also a resource that seniors can use to find housing.
Shafer said they find trusted real estate agents in the area and bring them to the Bayside Senior Center. Once the agents come, they let the seniors handle it themselves.
“We don’t want to force anybody. We let them talk to the person,” she said.
Barbara Toscano, the executive director of the Peter Cardella Senior Center, said they get a lot of SCRIE applications, which is a citywide senior rent freeze program, to their office and they help seniors apply for that.
If they cannot help them find affordable housing, Toscano said they help to lessen costs in other areas for the seniors including getting them food stamps if needed.
A common thread among the senior centers in the Borough is that while they may help them apply for affordable housing in their neighborhood, that comes with a long wait list because of the number of residents who also apply. There is also a lack of housing options available for seniors, they say, forcing them to look to other neighborhoods.
Toscano said there is a severe lack of housing options for seniors in Ridgewood and the rest of the Community Board 5 area, which are Maspeth, Middle Village and Glendale.
There is the St. Lucia Apartment complex on Bleecker Street between St Nicolas and Cypress avenues, but that is not enough for that area, she said.
Toscano added that many seniors living in apartments think they are protected from being kicked out by the landlord, but that is not the case if they have not signed a lease.
“If the landlord wants to rent it out to a family or for more money, they can just tell the senior, ‘I need the apartment, you have to get out,” she said.
One senior housing facility that has opened relatively recently is the Catholic Charities Peter J. Striano Residence in Howard Beach. That facility offers 96 units of housing for seniors and people with developmental disabilities. It also houses the Catholic Charities Howard Beach Senior Center, which located there after its former facilities were destroyed by Superstorm Sandy.
Judy Aschermann, the director of the Howard Beach Senior Center, echoed Toscano’s sentiment that more housing is needed. She said that the Howard Beach facility was a good start but more needs to be done.
Shafer said, there is also a lack of housing in Bayside, and they often recommend they move to another area with more housing options, such as Jamaica. She said some seniors decide to move, while others find an alternative housing accommodation to stay in their neighborhood.
Reach Luis Gronda at (718) 357-7400, Ext. 127, firstname.lastname@example.org, or @luisgronda.