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Brooklyn church breaks ground for senior housing

Elected officials, clergy and community leaders break ground for the Bishop Philius and Helene Nicolas Senior Residence Project.
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The Evangelical Crusade of Fishers of Men, in partnership with community leaders and residents, broke ground on Sunday for a new low-income senior housing development project in East Flatbush, Brooklyn.

The Evangelical Crusade of Fishers of Men is a Christian faith-based community that has served East Flatbush for 45 years as a place of refuge, retreat, transformation and restoration for all. It was founded by Bishop Philius H. Nicolas and is currently shepherded by his son and successor, the Rev. Dr. Samuel Nicolas.

The construction of the $45 million housing development project has been financed through discretionary capital allocations from Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams of $1,000,000 and Council Member Jumaane D. Williams of $500,000, the Senior Affordable Rental Apartment (SARA) program of the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development (HPD), Bank of America’s debt and equity financing programs.

“The Bishop Philius and Helene Nicolas Senior Residence Project is our answer to God’s call to serve the community and meet a fundamental human need – shelter,” said Rev. Nicolas, senior pastor. “God has rewarded our faith by bringing to fruition a project that we’ve been speaking about for the past 12 years.

“This building will enable us to expand our capacity to help our neighbors live a better life,” he added. “We are grateful for the opportunity to fulfill our mission on this earth and work with great partners to strengthen the East Flatbush community.”

Williams, who represents the 45th Council District in Brooklyn, said the Bishop Philius and Helene Nicolas Senior Residence Project (BPHN), named in honor of the church’s founding bishop and first lady, is an 89-unit apartment building for seniors ages 62 and older earning less than 50 percent of the area median income (AMI).

The residence, located at 1488 New York Ave., will consist of 88 studio rental units and 1 one-bedroom super’s unit, Williams said.

He said it will also include a community room, common area space, laundry facilities and on-site social services.

Additionally, Williams said there will be a 10,575 sq. community service facility located on the first and cellar levels that the congregation has envisioned as a medical office suite for geriatric primary care.

“It is critical that we provide aging New Yorkers with the affordable homes they need. I thank the Evangelical Crusade Christian Church (ECCC) for partnering with HPD to provide more security for our seniors,” said Mayor Bill de Blasio.

Brooklyn Borough President Eric L. Adams also commended the Evangelical Crusade of Fishers of Men and BEL Community Housing LLC for their “visionary leadership that is creating much-needed low-income housing for our senior neighbors in East Flatbush.

“This expansion of ministry to the realm of affordable housing is a blessing for our borough,” he said. “My administra­tion’s Faith-Based Development Initiative is proud to support efforts like these that are building meaningful bridges between houses of worship and non-profit developers, in the pursuit of helping Brooklynites to continue living in the communities they helped make great.”

Williams said seniors are “among those most hurt by the affordable housing and homelessness crisis in our city, with landlords that take advantage of them and rents that skyrocket due to gentrification.

“I’ve been proud to support this project that will provide much-needed housing for seniors in my community, and I want to thank Pastor Nicolas and ECCC for taking up this cause to address an urgent problem we face, as well as Borough President Adams and all of entities helping to fund this essential project,” he said.

Assembly Member Rodneyse Bichotte, representative for the 42nd Assembly District in Brooklyn, said: “It is with great pleasure that I stand in support of the groundbreaking for The Bishop Philius and Helene Nicolas Senior Residence Project (BPHN), in Flatbush Brooklyn and in Little Haiti.”

Bichotte noted that, currently, one out of every 128 New Yorkers is homeless.

She said that number includes many displaced tenants “who struggled with vacancy deregulation and rising rent costs before losing their dwellings.

“I am continuing the fight to alleviate these stressors, so that my constituents can exercise the basic human right to habitable and safe housing,” Bichotte said. “I support this project, because it ensures this right for seniors in New York, so that they can age in peace and in place.”

Council Member Mathieu Eugene, representative for the 40th Council District in Brooklyn, also lauded the leadership of the Evangelical Crusade of Fishers of Men for its “advocacy on behalf of our community’s underserved senior citizens.

“The congregation has worked diligently with community leaders and residents to make the Bishop Philius and Helene Nicolas Senior Residence Project a reality,” he said.

“It is critical that we continue to invest in projects that will help our elderly residents maintain a comfortable quality of life, and I am proud to allocate funding for this residence that will provide 89 units of affordable housing and supportive services to senior citizens in need of a care,” Eugene added.

The building will be developed by BEL Community Housing LLC, which is a partnership between Brisa Builders Development LLC; Evergreen City LLC, an M/WBE affordable housing development group; and Lemle & Wolff Dev. Co. It was designed by Heritage Architecture and Rodney Leon Architects.

Updated 5:18 pm, January 16, 2019
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