Oct. 11, 2022 By Michael Dorgan
An affordable housing complex for low-income seniors and the formerly homeless has opened in Astoria — and officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony to mark the occasion Friday.
The new development, called Bishop Rene A. Valero Senior Residence, is located at 23-11 31st Rd. and comes with 102 units. The building also has a 175-seat senior center on the ground floor.
The six-story building was developed by Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens for $62 million and has gone up on a former parking lot owned by the organization. It opened in July and is situated across the street from the Catherine Sheridan Houses, a low-income affordable housing complex on 31st Road which is managed by Catholic Charities.
The ribbon-cutting event was attended by the Bishop of the Diocese of Brooklyn Robert Brennan and the Catholic Charities CEO Monsignor Alfred LoPinto.
They were joined by New York City Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Adolfo Carrión (HPD), Deputy Queens Borough President Ebony Young, former Councilmember Costa Constantinides and other officials.
The new building is a 100 percent affordable residence for seniors with 30 percent of the building’s units reserved for formerly homeless seniors with severe mental illness. The units reserved for low-income seniors are for those making up to 60 percent of the Area Median Income (AMI).
Bishop Brennan said that the building underscores Catholic Charities’ commitment to providing affordable housing for the elderly throughout the Diocese.
“We are responding to a great need here in our Diocese and are putting our faith into action as we embark on this new opportunity to care for our neighbor,” Brennan said. “May these new apartments bring a sense of dignity and well-being to those who will call them home.”
The development includes on-site supportive social services, a resident’s lounge and an outdoor landscaped yard.
It also includes a senior center on the ground floor called the Peter J. DellaMonica Senior Center, which has relocated from 23-56 Broadway. The center is funded by the New York City Department for the Aging and operated by Catholic Charities Neighborhood Services.
The center offers hot meals to residents and programs such as educational forums, fitness classes, senior case management and referral services.
The new building is named after the late Rene A. Valero, the former Auxiliary Bishop of Brooklyn, who Catholic Charities say was a strong advocate for the elderly, refugees and the Hispanic community. He was the first director of the Catholic Charities Office for the Aging and was the founder and chairperson of the Diocesan Commission on the Elderly.
The new building brings the total number of affordable units built by Catholic Charities since 1975 to nearly 4,500, the organization said. The Catherine Sheridan Houses has 240 affordable units.
Catholic Charities said it advocated for the 31st Road property to be rezoned in 2016 which paved the way for the Bishop Rene A. Valero Senior Residence to be built.
The zoning change allowed new affordable or senior housing developments to be taller and also eliminated parking requirements for such housing located near subway lines. Catholic Charities was then able to build the Bishop Rene A. Valero Senior Residence on an underutilized parking lot it owned, the organization said.
Monsignor LoPinto said affordable housing is one of the biggest crises facing New York City.
“As one of the largest faith-based developers of affordable housing in the country, we understand how crucial it is to address this issue,” Monsignor LoPinto said.
“This project provides much-needed housing to low-income seniors and a supportive environment for formerly homeless individuals and allows the residents to live safely, comfortably and independently for as long as possible.”
“There are hundreds of thousands of individuals in need of affordable housing in New York City, and we cannot build fast enough.”