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Constantinides Wants Affordable Senior Housing to Go Up On 31st Street Parking Lot

31st Street Lot (QueensPost)

March 1, 2018 By Tara Law

An affordable senior housing complex is likely to go up on a 31st Street municipal parking lot.

Councilmember Costa Constantinides announced plans at a press conference today to build a 100-to 150-unit affordable housing complex for seniors on a city-owned parking lot, located at 32-11 31st St— steps from the Broadway (N/W) subway station.

The proposal is part of Constantinides’ overarching plan, announced at his State of the District speech in January, to address a shortage of senior housing by installing 500 senior affordable units in the neighborhood by the end of his term in 2021.

Constantinides described the property’s location as ideal, and said that he is going to work hard to secure it for the building.

“If I were to draw on a drawing board a location that was centrally located, that would have access to trains, access to the bus, access to churches, access to shopping, hospitals, I couldn’t draw up a better location,” the councilmember said.

Constantinides admitted that the proposal is “Not a done deal,” but said that he was in talks with the Department of City Planning and other city agencies to make it happen.

Constantinides has yet to put forward a timeline. The plans for the structure— including its size— have not been drawn up at this time. He noted that it would be a “long process.”

Before the building is constructed, the proposal would need to overcome several hurdles.

If handed over by the city, the 20,000 square foot property would need to go through the ULURP process for a zoning change, which would require the proposal to go before Community Board 1, the City Council and other governing bodies.

Constantinides acknowledged that the structure would eliminate parking, which is also a scarce resource in Astoria. However, he said that he believes that the seniors’ need for housing outweighs the need for the lot.

“I hear the drivers’ point of view,” the councilmember said. “We want to make sure that we hear that and respect that and look for solutions, but we want to make sure the seniors who are looking for an affordable place to live— that they have an opportunity to grow older in their communities.”

Constantinides said that his office is continuing to look for property to build affordable senior housing.

The proposal has come at a time of crisis for affordable senior housing in the city.

Over 200,000 seniors across the city are on waiting lists for affordable housing, according to a 2016 study by LiveON NY, a senior advocacy group. The study found that the seniors were on wait lists for an average of seven years, although some were on the waiting lists for as long as 10 years.

John Kaiteris, executive director for senior affordable housing provider HANAC, said at the press conference that factors such as gentrification and a growing population of seniors have compounded the need for additional senior housing.

HANAC operates three affordable housing projects in Astoria— the 100 unit Archbishop Iakovos Senior Residence at 32-06 21st Street; 66 units at HANAC PCA Senior Residence at 31-34 33rd Street; and the 184 unit George T. Douris Tower at 27-40 Hoyt Avenue South.

Kaiteris said that the need for affordable housing in Astoria has become “dire.” There are currently 28,000 seniors on the organization’s waiting list, but there are only 350 units in the group’s buildings.

Representatives from Catholic Charities, Diocese of Brooklyn, which maintains 500 units of affordable senior housing in the district and a total of 4,000 units in Brooklyn and Queens, also attended the press conference.

Patrick Keating, the organization’s deputy CEO, said that these high numbers can be misleading because only two or three units become available each year.

“It’s almost impossible for people to move in, because people are living in the buildings,” said Keating.

Constantinides said that the most common concerns he hears from his constituents deal with housing. In addition to costs, accessibility is often a major concern for seniors.

Units in the new building would likely be available to seniors with an annual income of less than 50 percent AMI, or about $33,400 for an individual.

For 81-year-old Angelica Thomches, the new housing cannot come soon enough.

Press conference

Thomches has been on a senior housing waiting list for five years. She reluctantly moved to Throgg’s Neck in the Bronx in 2013 after living on 33rd Street in Astoria for 46 years.

The hardest part about having to leave Astoria, Thomches said, is being cut off from friends. She said she must transfer twice to ride the subway into the neighborhood and scale numerous flights of stairs.

“I pray to God whenever I get on the train,” said Thomches.

Thomches also said that she misses attending St. Demetrios Cathedral, where she has been a parishioner since 1968.

“I go to church up there [in the Bronx]. It’s not the same,” said Thomches. “You miss the priest that you know.”

Despite the length of the wait list, Thomches is hopeful that she will find affordable housing in Astoria.

“I want to be with my friends,” said Thomches. “I want to spend my last years here.”

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27 Comments

Ray Rogers

Regarding any major real estate dealings, keep this in mind:
The destruction of schools, libraries, historic buildings and the manufactured gentrification (hyper-gentrification on steroids) causing massive displacement of tenants, lack of affordable housing and record numbers of closures of small businesses throughout the city are a direct result of REBNY’s (Real Estate Board of New York) rezoning policies. The Mayor, City Council Speaker(s), Economic Development Corporation and City Department of Planning are all schilling for the super-wealthy developers, property speculators and landlords. Learn more at stopREBNYbullies.org




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LIC Neighbor

Beware if they want to put a hotel on that site. Hotels being converted into a homeless shelters for homeless men, many of who are released and parolees from NY upstate prisons. This is what the city has done in LIC. Crime has spiked in our neighborhood. The city is dumping the homeless paying hundreds of thousands per month to house homeless families and men in LIC. Our neighborhood is going down the tubes. Don’t let the same happen in Astoria.




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Questions

If they redesign 31st street to be 90 degree back-in parking (like 31st btw ditmars and 21st ave) then *maybe* this would work.

Otherwise, taking away the lot IS going to create more congestion. People will not magically stop driving to the area to dine or pick up some amazing parisi bread. People will not magically start taking the subway to the neighborhood because service frankly sucks. These cars will just be circling around and around and around, double parking or parking at hydrants.

If they can’t add parking under 31st street, and this project goes through, perhaps we need a criminal investigation of how HANAC keeps taking over our properties and developing them as ‘community senior housing’. I know plenty of retired folks in astoria, and one of them have any plans on moving into these HANAC buildings. Where are the residents coming from? HANAC makes a lot of money from this, and some of that money goes to grease the palms of a long line of Astoria elected officials.




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nik

How would the 90 degree back-in parking work under the elevated columns of the train station? Its too narrow and it would not be safe for drivers and bikers. 31st btw ditmars and 21st ave has no train above it and is a very big street.




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Measuring tape

The street is the exact same width. It would be safer for everyone while still providing parking spaces.

All of this is moot though. The government should not be giving away our parking lots *again* to a private organization. HANAC already did this to the lot on Hoyt ave South, and the former church on 33rd street.




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frances

As long as there is security, I think another affordable senior housing complex is good for seniors to remain in Astoria and be safe.




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nick

There are so many seniors in Astoria. Many landlords want them out from the older buildings so i think this is a good idea.




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Mookie

Hard pass – they can miss me, this is a new Astoria and the old folks, their mafia and their social clubs can go now.




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Harry

Not for nothing, but that area is always congested. That parking lot makes it possible for people to come to the area and shop. There are other areas in Astoria that are better suited for affordable housing. Yes people walk and take trains but I grew up in Astoria.. if you understand anything with how he neighborhood has changed, it is a commercial hub as much as residential. It has just as much people coming by car from Long Island, or jersey or other boroughs who come here to dine, or shop at specialty stores that are unique to Astoria. Don’t overlook supporting small businesses because people will end up going to chains with parking lots. The same ones we are concerned about when we say the rich get richer.




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Harry Ballsagna

The subway stop is right there or people can walk. Astorians used to walk places…now everyone needs a car to drive 5 blocks.




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helen

Better a senior housing than a jail!!! People living near old parking lots or vacant factories should be concerned that city doesn’t start building jails around here.




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Damu Radheshwar

If this area started to see less vehicular traffic it will not be as congested! Understood the arking is necessary for those who are traveling from distant places. Why can’t there be parking and housing on the same site? Since there would be a ULURP process anyway, the development team can identify what is needed for the neighborhood and what type of housing and amenities the community needs.




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camillo bellofrofonte

Very good idea, special for some one like seniors citizen with limit resources.




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jackie

I think the Municipal Parking Lot on Ditmars and 32 street (in back of the supermarket) would be another great place to build affordable housing. That area is big and close to all including markets, shops, eateries, bakeries, churches, mosques and transportation. There is such a need all over NYC for affordable housing.




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Fed up

Well he can start by removing all the food carts and trucks that are ruining the business which is the tax base in Astoria. It’s those text dollars they were support ambitious project just like the ones he has




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John

They pay for permits and sales tax. I think there is no evidence they are ruining the other businesses unless you would like to provide some evidence of that.




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elias

Since when did they start giving out receipts when you buy food from street vendors?




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ronny

The permits are actually being subsidized by the taxpayers when the vendors pad it into their tax returns in the form of business expenses.




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Fed up

What permit??? To black market??? City gets shit from it . It was given to. Someone so he/she can work nit to sell it for 22000. Yes twenty two thousand dollars . And also if a business wants a sidewalk cafe he pays rent and taxes while carts do not . That’s alone is a civil right on equality




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han

You want to stop it ? 1-2-3 Easy ! The owner of the permit has to be on the truck just like they do it in LI. Problem solved.




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robert

Food trucks a tax dodge, unsanitary (dumping their effluent in the gutter), an eyesore, a fire hazard, and are air polluting with their noisy, smelly generators all over Astoria!!




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Harry Ballsagna

This is a stupid comment. Astoria doesn’t have a “tax base” that is separate from every other neighborhood in NYC.




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sal

I agree. Also, where do all these street vendors pee? When i asked a friend of mine who used to work one he told me never to add sauerkraut to you hot dog.




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Jay

Many of those Astoria food carts and trucks are delicious. Why would you want to remove something delicious?




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