To The Editor:
We live and work in a Borough where population growth and shifting demographics are creating new housing challenges. Part of this challenge is simply providing housing to accommodate new arrivals, but equally important is to strive to serve the evolving and increasing needs of existing New Yorkers, such as growing families and “newly minted” seniors who want to remain part of their communities. To help address this conundrum, the Department of City Planning, through its “Zoning for Quality and Affordability.” has initiated a discussion amongst our community stakeholders around the issues of supply and demand for affordable housing. In a borough where the rental vacancy is at 2.8 percent and 31 percent of the borough’s population is severely rent burdened, more work is needed to make all our communities more “affordable.”
Founded in 1972, HANAC began sponsoring affordable housing for seniors in 1993 to address their acute housing needs as they age. Its current portfolio – all in Queens County – consists of 350 affordable rental units, with a 7-10 year waiting list that totals over 11,000.
We are in support of the City Planning Department’s intention to amend the zoning resolution to promote new housing development where it’s most appropriate – in close proximity to mass transit. Under the proposed zoning amendment, developers/sponsors similar to HANAC would be better able to include new amenity spaces, such as senior affordable housing in contextual zoning districts.
As a native of Bayside, I am sensitive to the shortsighted development practices that can disturb the integrity of our low-density communities that are unique to Queens. However, I believe there are new opportunities that can be seized – across the city and borough – to aponsor new projects like the 66-unit HANAC PCA Senior Residence in Astoria that do not negatively impact the residential character of its block.
The plan before us, I believe, will not diminish the livability of our communities. On the contrary, it will increase both amenity and neighborhood equity through added affordability in an effort to make our borough and city a more livable place to thrive for all New Yorkers.
John P. Kaiteris