Oct. 24, 2016 By Hannah Wulkan
Veteran housing is coming to Astoria in the next few years, as part of a complete overhaul of the Marine Terrace affordable apartments complex.
Related Companies, the developer behind high profile projects such as Hudson Yards and Hunters Point South, bought Marine Terrace at the end of June for $121 million, and is renovating the complex, as well as adding two new buildings that will house veterans.
Marine Terrace is a Section 8 Housing Assistance Payment property that provides affordable housing to families and seniors, typically paying about a third of their adjusted household income as rent.
Construction on the two new buildings will begin in the summer of 2017, and are planned to open in the fall of 2018. The new facilities will have 53 units reserved specifically for veterans, as well as community lounges, a laundry facility, a fitness center, a nurse’s office and a management office.
Related also began rehabbing the existing 444 apartments in August, updating the kitchens and bathrooms, as well as renovating 33 units to be accessible and meet ADA standards.
The project will cost about $49 million, according to Related, including the updates and the new buildings.
Rumors surrounding the new veteran housing have run rampant since the project was announced, with several sites reporting that some of the new units would be designated specifically for homeless veterans.
At the Community Board 1 monthly meeting last Thursday, the head of Related’s affordable housing division Matthew Finkle guaranteed the board that it would not be a facility for the homeless.
“These are rent restricted, income restricted apartments for veterans, primarily veterans that are in transition, not homeless, not living on the streets, not living in shelters, but veterans who are transitioning in to independent living,” Finkle said.
However when pressed on the issue, Related Associate Jamar Adams did not specify exactly where they were transitioning from, only saying that they come from a “variety of backgrounds.”
Adams added that the rent for the veteran apartments would likely run around $850 per month for a studio and $960 per month for a one-bedroom including utilities, though final costs have not been set.
The company has partnered with the Jericho Project to help screen applicants for the 53 units, which is a “nonprofit ending homelessness at its roots by enabling formerly homeless or at-risk individuals and families to lead independent lives,” according to its website.
Jericho Project has a specific Veterans Initiative, which helps find housing for veterans throughout the city.
As part of the update to the complex, Related has offered a monetary incentive to move out of Marine Terrace to some of the highest earning residents.
One member of the Community Board mentioned that she has had more than 10 of the letters brought to her attention, most offering $5,000 to the resident to move out.
A spokeswoman for Related said that the company offered these incentives to residents who have incomes that exceed the affordability threshold set by the Department of Housing and Urban Development. At the meeting Adams also mentioned that the amount offered to move out is negotiable.
She explained that the program is voluntary, and is intended to open up the affordable housing to the neediest individuals. She added that there is a multiyear waiting list for apartments at Marine Terrace.
Several politicians will be holding a press conference tomorrow at 11:30 at the complex to express their thoughts on the Marine Terrace project, including Congressman Joe Crowley, Senator Jose Peralta, and Councilman Costa Constantinides.