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20,000 Seniors Hold Out for Affordable Housing in Western Queens

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There's more demand for affordable housing for seniors in areas around Astoria than any other part of the city

There's a waitlist of nearly 20,000 seniors hoping to secure affordable housing in Western Queens neighborhoods like Astoria, Woodside, East Elmhurst and Jackson Heights. The district, which has seven affordable housing buildings for seniors, has more demand than any other part of the city.

The senior advocacy group LiveOn NY released a survey, picked up by DNAinfo, that found 111,000 seniors are on waitlists for affordable housing in New York, with an average wait time of seven years. (It's been said that it's easier to get into Harvard than secure an affordable senior apartment here.) Despite three senior housing developments built in Astoria by HANAC, Inc. over the past 10 years, the waitlist numbers in Western Queens are far higher than any other district in the city. HANAC's developments have a total of 350 units but there's a waitlist of 13,000 for just those three buildings.

LiveOn NY released the survey in support of the mayor's controversial housing proposals, just approved this week. The City Council strongly supported Zoning for Quality and Affordability (ZQA) and Mandatory Inclusionary Housing (MIH), which ensure more senior and affordable housing is included in denser buildings.

Claire Hilger, the senior vice president for real estate with Catholic Charities Brooklyn and Queens—which runs two senior buildings in Astoria with a waitlist of 1,300—told DNAinfo she believes a number of vacant parking lots at their developments could be used for more housing under the zoning change.

Councilmember Costa Constantinides, of Astoria, told DNAinfo that the dire need for senior housing convinced him to vote for the zoning changes this week. And Bobbi Sackman, director of public policy at LiveOn NY, sees the discussion around rezoning as a step in the right direction. "The whole ZQA debate, it opens a door, literally, to the city's awareness," she told DNAinfo. "You can't go backwards. You can't now close that door and say you never knew."