Brooklyn Borough President Advances Plan to Help NYC Houses of Worship Build Affordable Housing

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By Tanay Warerkar

Churches across New York City are increasingly being converted to residential buildings or selling part of their land for residential development. Seeing that trend, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams wanted to ensure that churches and other houses of worship weren’t always converted to pricey condos. As a result, he created the Faith-Based Development Initiative. The program connects houses of worship with resources to help them realize their development potential, and in turn work to build affordable housing and community resources on their properties.

The latest project being put forward through this program is a 67-unit affordable housing development in Ocean Hill on a site currently home to True Holy Church. The site is being developed by Brisa Builders Corporation and Ridgewood Bushwick Senior Citizens Council in collaboration with the church, and is currently going through a Uniform Land Use Review Procedure (ULURP) to rezone the property for such a development.

Adams used the ULURP as an opportunity to advance this particular program, and his recommendation came after several meetings with local residents and housing advocates.

“This is the first opportunity I have had to use the ULURP process to advance my Faith-Based Development Initiative, and I am excited to do so in a community like Ocean Hill, which is ideal for partnering houses of worship with developers committed to affordable housing for Brooklynites in true need,” Adams said in a statement.

The new 10-story building, plans for which were filed in October last year, will also come with a new, larger church at the base of the building, and the apartments here will be priced at 60 percent of the area median income or below, with 15 apartments set aside for formerly homeless veterans.

The Borough President’s office has identified a large number of houses of worship that have property rights that could align with the goals of the Faith-Based Development Initiative. In 2016, he set aside $1 million for two projects he is pushing forward through this program namely a 154-unit affordable housing development in Crown Heights for low-income seniors and a 481-unit development in Brownsville for low-income families.

The City Planning Commission will now take into consideration Adams’s recommendations as the Ocean Hill project moves through the ULURP.

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