Borough Hall Puts Faith and Funding into Affordable Housing in Central Brooklyn
By James Harney Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Borough President Adams Plans to Invest $2 Million in Church-Sponsored Developments
Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams is putting up more than $2 million in funding to help local houses of worship to develop affordable housing on underutilized church properties across the Borough of Churches.
To underscore that point, Adams trekked to the parking lot of Calvary Community Church in Crown Heights Thursday morning to unveil his Faith-Based Development Initiative, which will partner houses of worship with local developers to build hundreds of units of affordable housing in Central Brooklyn neighborhoods clamoring for them.
“There are many faith-based organizations in the borough that have parking lots, or air rights, where affordable housing can be developed,” the borough president said at a press conference attended by Calvary Community pastor the Rev. Cecil Henry, along with a bevy of local politicians and representatives of community-based groups and developers who will team up in the initiative.
Adams said that Selfhelp Community Services and The Hudson Companies developers will team with Calvary Community to build Calvary Intergenerational, a development that will include some 185 units of affordable housing, half of them for senior citizens, on the parking lot behind the church.
Several representatives of the community organizations participating in the initiative held large mock-ups of checks bearing the amounts of funding their groups will receive from the borough president’s “One Brooklyn” fund, and an even larger mock check, made out to “One Brooklyn” for $2,250,000, was on display beneath the podium where Adams spoke.
“We want to stop the hemorrhaging of affordable housing in Brooklyn, and our dollars will go a long way when we partner with local organizations and developers,” he said. “What we believe is that the people who lived here before Starbucks came in should be able to stay here and buy at Starbucks after it comes in.”
Adams was joined by local elected officials Assemblymember Latrice Walker and Councilmember Darlene Mealy, whose districts encompass Crown Heights and who both lauded the affordable housing effort.
“Borough President Adams had a vision to involve a partnership with faith-based organizations to develop affordable housing in this community,” said Walker. “This is much needed. Growing up in this neighborhood, I remember when St. John’s Place was plagued by drugs and homelessness, and even now many people are still living in transitional housing.”
Mealy agreed, saying, “It is time for faith-based institutions to start building on their vacant land. So many developers are making money now; why not the churches?”
Also on hand was city Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) Commissioner Vicki Been, who thanked Adams for allocating money to pay for an HPD mobile unit that will canvass neighborhoods involved in the initiative to solicit community feedback.
“You might need security for that mobile unit,” Mealy warned Been. “Senior citizens in this neighborhood are going to be lined up around the block. Our senior citizens need housing. Many of them have lived here since the days when it was bad, with prostitutes and drug dealers on the corner. They deserve better.”
Henry also lauded Adams and The Hudson Companies “for making this dream a reality.”
“Long before there was a borough president named Adams or a mayor named de Blasio, there was a dream,” said Henry, as he stood before a large mural painted on a fence running along one side of the parking lot that read: “The Mission Is Possible.”
“Now that dream — the dream to minister not just to the spiritual needs, but also to the physical needs, of this community — can become a reality.”
Aaron Koffman of The Hudson Companies told the Brooklyn Eagle that of the 185 affordable units planned for the 200,000-square-foot Calvary Intergenerational development, 88 would be set aside for senior citizens. Construction is slated to begin in December 2017, and be completed in early 2020.
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