haitian seniors in flatbush
The senior population in East Flatbush is growing, and a Haitian-led church in the neighborhood is working to meet the need for affordable housing. Photo by Garry Pierre-Pierre

By Sam Bojarski

The senior population in East Flatbush is growing, and a Haitian-led church in the neighborhood is working to meet the need for affordable housing. Photo by Garry Pierre-Pierre

Applications are open for newly-built apartments in East Flatbush designed for seniors in the community. 

The Evangelical Crusade Christian Church spearheaded the effort to construct the $45 million development, named the Bishop Philius and Helen Nicolas Senior Residence, at 1488 New York Avenue. The application deadline is Jan. 28.

“Some of our members were getting older, so there was a need,” said Rev. Samuel Nicolas, senior pastor of the 47-year-old church, in a November interview. Nicolas is the son of the church founders whose names the development bears. 

“We built senior residential apartments to make sure that we’re taking care of an aging population in East Flatbush,” Nicolas said.

As of 2018, 16% of residents in East Flatbush, which has a population of nearly 136,000, were 65 years of age or older, up from 11.7% in 2010 and 9.1% in 2000. 

Along with the growing senior population comes a corresponding need for senior housing in Community Board 17, which encompasses East Flatbush, said Tyrone McDonald, government and community relations manager for NHS Brooklyn, which provides housing counseling. 

“Unfortunately, a lot of the housing that has been developed in the past 20 years is not aimed at seniors,” McDonald said. “This is at least a first step to try to address this overwhelming need in the community.” 

Designed by Rodney Leon Architects and Heritage Architecture, the seven-story, 89-unit development was built by Brisa Builders and BEL Community Housing Associates, The Haitian Times has reported. Some units are reserved for formerly homeless seniors, said Ericka Keller, chief executive officer of Brisa Builders. 

Fifty-two studio apartments are open to residents whose households have at least one member who is 62 years old or more. The rent amount will vary based on household income, with each household paying 30% of their total income in rent. 

To apply, eligible residents must create an account on the New York City Housing Connect website.

Applicants cannot earn more than half of the area’s median income, according to the New York City Housing Preservation and Development (HPD) department. That means a household of two people cannot make more than $45,500 annually and a one-person household may not earn more than $39,800 per year. 

Amenities for the building include a live-in superintendent, a laundry room and an elevator, according to HPD

Tenants will also have access to a second-floor common room with an adjacent outdoor balcony. Partners in the development are in conversations with prospective organizations about leasing more than 10,500 feet of ground floor space. One prospective tenant, the New York City Department for the Aging, would provide on-site social services staff, space for social activities and a kitchen, Keller said. 

“We are hoping that the ground floor will be a senior center for the entire community,” said Keller. 

For application assistance, contact NHS Brooklyn at 718-469-4679 or the Flatbush Development Corporation at 718-859-3800. 

Sam is a reporter for The Haitian Times and a 2020 Report for America corps member. He has covered Haiti and its diaspora since 2018. His work has also appeared in USA Today, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review and Haiti Liberte. Sam can be reached at sam@haitiantimes.com or on Twitter @sambojarski.

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