Patch – Elizabeth St. Garden Senior Housing Project Heard At City Council

Elizabeth St. Garden Senior Housing Project Heard At City Council

The controversial project to build affordable senior housing on the site of the Elizabeth Street Garden went to the City Council Thursday.

By Sydney Pereira, Patch Staff |  | 
Councilwoman Margaret Chin rallies with Haven Green supporters Thursday.
Councilwoman Margaret Chin rallies with Haven Green supporters Thursday. (Sydney Pereira/Patch)
LITTLE ITALY, NY — A controversial project to raze the Elizabeth Street Garden and build an affordable senior housing project there went to a City Council public hearing Thursday.The project — dubbed Haven Green — is expected to bring more than 100 units of deeply affordable, LGBTQ-friendly senior housing to the Little Italy area.

But in bringing low-income senior housing to the neighborhood, the garden will be slashed to about one-third of its current size — a point of outrage among some neighbors who strongly oppose the plan and have even sued to stop it.

At City Hall Thursday afternoon, dozens rallied on the steps of City Hall and testified at the hearing, which lasted beyond 5 p.m.

Haven Green supporters said the need for low-income senior housing is critical — noting some 200,000 seniors are on the wait list for affordable housing.

“It’s punishing to grow old in this city,” said K Webster, a strong supporter of Haven Green and Lower East Sider who has long been an advocate for seniors’ rights.

For seniors of color, LGBTQ seniors, or other marginalized groups, “it’s brutal,” she added.

“This is not an equivalent struggle. This is a shared compromise,” Webster said.

The new development would create 123 affordable apartments affordable for seniors along with about 6,700 square feet of open space, as well as space for retail, community facilities and Habitat offices. Pennrose Properties, RiseBoro Community Partnership and Habitat for Humanity New York City are partners in the project, which the Department of Housing Preservation and Development is overseeing.

The apartments would be affordable to tenants earning 30 to 60 percent of the area median income, the equivalent of about $21,000 to $43,000 per year in 2018, Haven Green representatives said Thursday.

Karen Haycox, the head of Habitat for Humanity New York City, said the housing project is a “matter of social, economic and racial justice.”

But Elizabeth Street Garden supporters said the garden is a needed “oasis” in the neighborhood. They want to save it in its entirety.

Elizabeth Street Garden “has strong objections to and concerns about the Proposed Project and its impact on the local community,” Normal Siegel and Kate Fletcher, attorneys for the garden, which has sued the city, said in a statement Thursday.

“To be clear, [Elizabeth Street Garden] is not opposed to developing affordable housing in the area, but ESG is opposed to the unnecessary destruction of Elizabeth Street Garden to accomplish that end,” Siegel and Fletcher wrote.

The public hearing before the City Council’s land use committee was among the final steps in a lengthy review process before the controversial project ultimately goes to vote in the full Council. Last month, the City Planning Commission approved the plan, with just one ask from the City Planning chair to extend the hours of the future open space beyond 9 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Councilwoman Margaret Chin, who holds a pivotal vote for the project under the public review process, has been a supporter of Haven Green and rallied with its supporters Thursday afternoon.

Seniors seeking affordable housing “want to know when it will be ready,” Chin said. “Telling them that now is not the time and that this city-owned lot in not the place is unacceptable.”

“Fair and equitable housing call for all neighborhoods in our city to participate in alleviating this crisis,” she added.

But other elected officials have backed the Elizabeth Street Garden supporters, including Assemblymembers Deborah Glick and Yuh-Line Niou.

Glick echoed the Community Board 2 resolution opposing the plan, calling for another site to be used for affordable housing instead.

Sacrificing community space instead of looking at a different empty site is a “disservice to the community,” Glick said.

Read the original article here.

Share this post