In response to the housing crisis, Lieutenant Governor Kathy Hochul, RiseBoro Community Partnership, and local representatives joined last week to cut the ribbon for newly converted, affordable homes in Bushwick.
The new Our Lady of Lourdes Apartments converted a former convent into an 8,000-square-foot complex with 76 apartments spread across three buildings, 12 of which are set aside for the homeless. Each building also has social services and other facilities to serve the residents.
“We believe that through this model of integrating legal and home-based services, we can have a profound impact on keeping people stably housed, keeping them off the streets, and out of the shelter system,” said RiseBoro CEO Scott Short. “And we’re successful in over 90 percent of the clients that we take through this model.”
This $31 million project is part of Governor Andrew Cuomo’s Vital Brooklyn plan, a $1.4 billion initiative designed to create livelier communities throughout the borough through the creation of 4,000 new homes.
“While Brooklyn has a fantastic reputation globally, there are some neighborhoods that still need a little extra love,” Hochul said. “Everyone deserves the dignity of a good home and not have that fear of wandering the streets at night worrying about snow and rain and the elements and whether or not they’ll be harassed or molested during the night.
“There will be individuals whose lives will be transformed because they found their way through that door off the streets into a place where people’s warm, welcome arms will embrace them and help them turn their lives around,” she added.
The cost of the project was low, according to Short, who said the hard cost was under $260 per square foot, a “pretty remarkable number in this market.”
Not only does the development provide affordable housing, but it is also environmentally friendly. The units were designed to meet passive house building standards.
“We really need to reduce our carbon footprint across the state,” said Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas. “For us, it’s really important that we incorporate that into our housing.”
For the residents, services include financial literacy, homelessness prevention, and public benefits enrollment, all free of charge.
In the lower level of the buildings, there are kitchens and healthy eating classes aimed at tackling the ongoing obesity and hypertension crisis.
“Pairing energy efficient and affordable housing with workforce development and support services provides residents with safety and security while advancing cleaner, greener and healthier communities for the benefit of all New Yorkers,” said Alicia Barton, president and CEO of New York State Research and Development Authority.