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November 2011 | Volume 10 Issue 6   


    Public-Private Partnership Closes Funding Gap for Affordable Housing
    Family and Older Adult Housing in Queens, NY
    New Study Encourages Accessory Dwelling Units in the East Bay Area

Family and Older Adult Housing in Queens, NY

Queens is the largest of New York City’s five boroughs and, with two million people, the second most populous. At 10,000 people per square mile, Queens is one of the most densely populated areas in the nation and is also an expensive place to live. In January 2011, Queens’ cost of living index was 158.3, compared to the national average of 100. Safe and decent affordable housing continues to be out of reach for many residents. To help offset the limited availability of affordable housing in the traditionally expensive New York City market, area officials broke ground on two new projects — Richmond Place and Richmond Hill — that aim to bring housing affordability to low-income households, formerly homeless families and older adults while also revitalizing an abandoned property designated as a New York Brownfield Cleanup Site.

Richmond Place and Richmond Hill Senior Living Residences

New affordable housing development, Richmond Place and Richmond Hill Senior Living Residences, broke ground on September 7, 2011. Image courtesy of Leader Observer.
New affordable housing development, Richmond Place and Richmond Hill Senior Living Residences, broke ground on September 7, 2011. Image courtesy of Leader Observer.
The site, being developed through a public-private partnership, has long been considered a blighting influence to a city struggling to equalize affordable housing among some of the most expensive housing in the country. The Richmond Place and the Senior Living Residences aim to counterbalance the increase of high rises and luxury apartment units that have cropped up across the city, limiting the availability of affordable housing. The Richmond Place, in particular, is a product of Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s New Housing Marketplace Plan to create or preserve 165,000 affordable housing units for approximately 500,000 New Yorkers by the year 2014. The $8.4 billion initiative has thus far created or preserved approximately 125,000 affordable units across the city.

In order to begin construction, the parcel — formerly the site of a laundry factory — underwent an environmental cleanup. After closing the factory in 2002, the site sat vacant until 2007 when it was entered into the New York State Department of Environmental Conservation Brownfield Cleanup Program. In cooperation with the Department, the Arker Companies removed more than 30,000 cubic yards of contaminated soil. The site cleanup was one obstacle to be overcome in paving the way for affordable housing units. Another obstacle was that the site was zoned for industrial use. However, in 2005, the Department of City Planning rezoned the property to allow residential uses and limited commercial overlays, finally allowing for the possibility of mixed use housing and commercial projects on the site.

Serving the Community

Richmond Place will serve low-income families earning below 60 percent (currently $47,520) of the area median income (AMI). Of the 117 units in the 136,300 square-foot midrise project, 24 will be set aside for formerly homeless households. The complex is comprised of 13 studio units, 28 one-bedroom units, 68 two-bedroom units, and 7 three-bedroom units.

Richmond Hill Senior Living Residences, a six-story, 62,500 square-foot midrise, similarly serves low-income households, targeted to older adults in an age-restricted setting. Households must meet income restrictions, earning no more than 60 percent of the AMI. Additionally, the Richmond Hill Senior Living Residences will include coordinated supportive services for frail elderly and people with psychiatric disabilities via a partnership with Selfhelp Community Services, a local service provider. The building will contain office space for an onsite social worker, helping to bridge the gap between affordable housing and community supportive services.

The projects are financed with the help of Bank of America through $12.7 million in federal and state tax credit equity financing. To cover construction costs, the New York City Housing Development Corporation is providing $17.5 million in tax-exempt bonds. The City’s Department of Housing Preservation has provided approximately $7 million ($4.7 million in Low Income Rental Program subsidy combined with a $2.29 million subsidy in HOME funds) toward the projects. Final construction costs for both housing complexes total approximately $54 million.


The Richmond Place and Richmond Hill Senior Living Residences, scheduled to be completed December 2012, will provide much needed affordable housing to the New York City borough while also eliminating blight caused by the abandoned building and contaminated site. Through a successful cleanup and redevelopment, low-income families including formerly homeless individuals and older adults — among the most traditionally underserved populations — will have a new affordable, clean, and safe place to call home.


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