Breaking ground on affordable senior housing in New York

January 15, 2020

The Most Reverend Nicholas DiMarzio, bishop of Brooklyn, joined Monsignor Alfred LoPinto, chief executive officer, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, New York State Homes and Community Renewal (HCR) and community members today for the ceremonial groundbreaking for the new Catholic Charities Loreto Apartments, a $48 million development to provide 135 units of affordable apartments for low-income seniors with supportive services in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn. Developed as a partnership between Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens and HCR, the development is located on the former school, rectory, and convent of Our Lady of Loreto Church.

New York State funding for the Loreto Apartments includes $3.4 million in permanent tax-exempt bonds, federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits that will generate nearly $19 million in equity and an additional $24.6 million subsidy from HCR. The New York State Department of Health will provide funding for supportive services through the Governor’s Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative (ESSHI). Wells Fargo National Bank is the financial partner.

“We are so happy to be here today to break ground on the Catholic Charities Loreto Apartments,” said Monsignor LoPinto. “It’s been said that the affordability of housing is the biggest crisis facing New York City. As one of the largest faith-based developers of affordable housing in the country, we understand how true this statement is. This project will provide much needed senior housing and allow the residents to live safely, comfortably and independently for as long as possible. We are thrilled to be breaking ground for this facility today, and so glad that all of you could be with us for this historic occasion.”

HCR Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, “Developments like the Loreto Apartments allow older New Yorkers to live independent lives while remaining in the communities they call home. We are proud of our partnership with Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens as it shows what can be achieved when State and faith-based leaders dedicate their efforts to providing homes for those who need them most. Through the Governor’s Office of Faith-Based Community Development Services, we work hand-in-hand with faith-based nonprofits to tap their potential as sources of quality affordable housing and repurpose places of worship in ways that strengthen families and encourage economic growth. Our $48 million investment in the Loreto Apartments furthers Governor Cuomo’s commitment to supporting the faith-based community in Central Brooklyn and in communities across the state.”

Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens is one of the largest faith-based providers of affordable housing in the nation and currently provides 4,330 units of affordable homes for seniors, families, the formerly homeless and those struggling with mental illness.

“The Church teaches us that every person has a basic right to have a place to call home, and we know that having a place to live provides stability and identity to the most vulnerable in our society. Pope John Paul II said that “a home is much more than a roof over one’s head. It is a place for building and seeking one’s life,” said Bishop DiMarzio. “Four years ago, the Holy Father released the Papal Encyclical Laudato Si: On Care for Our Common Home, where Pope Francis asked for an inclusive dialogue about how we are shaping the future of our planet. In response, Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens has endeavored to build affordable housing with a greater focus on sustainability.”

Located at 126 Sackman Street, Catholic Charities Loreto Apartments will feature an eight-story, 83,683 square foot building with on-site supportive social services for residents provided by Catholic Charities Neighborhood Services, an affiliate agency of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens. Supportive services will include an on-call nurse, counseling, assistance with daily living, case management, substance abuse counseling, exercise programs, nutrition classes, visits to cultural institutions and transportation to a nearby Catholic Charities senior center. The building will also include 24-hour security, a fitness room, lounge, laundry facilities and rooftop solar panels to reduce the cost of electricity and reduce the building’s carbon footprint.

“These apartments are the first of three ‘dialogue of fraternity’ projects that are the fruits of prayer and dialogue converted into works of charity in order to bring healing and consolation to our wounded human family, particularly the elderly who have been forgotten and are alone,” said Bishop DiMarzio, quoting a letter signed by Cardinal Miguel Ángelo Ayuso Guixot, president of the Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue to the participants in the groundbreaking ceremony.

“Catholic Charities Loreto Apartments will address the urgent need for affordable housing for seniors right in the heart of vital New York communities,” said Alan Wiener, group head of Wells Fargo Multifamily Capital. “Our support of affordable rental housing has helped improve access to housing in cities across the country and assisted in neighborhood revitalization and we remain steadfast in our continued commitment to provide financial support for more and improved affordable housing options.”

NYC Council Member Rafael Espinal said, “This is a project that will bring 135 affordable units to our seniors in need, low-income and formerly homeless. Thanks to the collaboration between Catholic Charities, NYSHCR, and so many other faith-based groups and members in the community this long-awaited project is now a reality. The homeless crisis in our city is real and this project is working to change that in Brownsville. I’m grateful to have played a part in ensuring that this site will be a place of comfort, support, and love by including facilities like a community space that will be open to all in the neighborhood.”

“The new Loreto Apartments will allow seniors in Brownsville to age with dignity. I was proud to allocate over $500,000 to bring this project to fruition. This helps to fulfill the mission set out by our faith-based development initiative, and I look forward to supporting similar projects throughout the borough,” said Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams.

The development of the Catholic Charities Loreto Apartments is the second phase of redevelopment of the former Our Lady of Loreto Church and will integrate affordable independent residences for seniors (AIRS) with senior supportive housing. Catholic Charities Progress for Peoples Development Corporation (CCPOP), the affordable housing developer of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, dedicated 40 percent of the units to AIRS and the remaining 60 percent to senior supportive housing.

The 54 AIRS units will target seniors 62 years of age and older, and be affordable to individuals earning up to 40 percent Area Median Income (AMI). The remaining 81 units will be supportive housing units targeting individuals who are formerly homeless, over the age of 55, and are frail or disabled. Rents for these supportive units will be underwritten at an amount affordable to household’s earning 60 percent AMI.

CCPOP will apply for SHOP subsidy for both the supportive and AIRS units along with rental assistance, service and operating funds through the New York State Empire State Supportive Housing Imitative (ESSHI) for supportive housing units. Catholic Charities Neighborhood Services, an affiliate of Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens, will provide case management services within the building for the senior supportive residents. The Project will provide much needed senior housing and allow the residents to live safely, comfortably, and independently for as long as possible.

CCPOP is currently exploring a collaboration with the Dharma Drum Mountain community where exercises such as yoga, tai chi and meditation are to be led by Buddhist monks within the meditation center at the Project.

The Catholic Charities Monsignor Anthony J. Barretta Apartments, an eight-story building development of 64 homes opened in 2013 on the former site of the parish school.


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