Astoria, NY — City Council Speaker Corey Johnson and Council Member Costa Constantinides announced Thursday night that a senior affordable housing development in District 22 was fully funded under the Fiscal Year 2019 budget. The major victory for Astoria headlined Speaker Johnson’s first district town hall, attended by more than 300 residents, civic leaders, and elected officials, at P.S. 171 — Peter G. Van Alst.
“This is a big win for District 22 senior citizens, who for too long have worried about skyrocketing rents pricing them out of their own neighborhood,” said Council Member Constantinides. “I’m thrilled this piece of good news could headline our well-attended town hall, which was filled with great questions and suggestions from the audience. Thanks to Speaker Johnson choosing Astoria to do his first town hall, being a strong leader on affordable housing, among other things, and engaging with our community. I am proud to represent people who care so much about making our district an even better place.”
“As an elected official, listening to the issues that matter most to the community is vital. Turnout at the town hall was terrific, and the topics of discussion, from affordable housing and environmental justice to sanitation and public safety, were formidable. I am glad we were able to share some good news and announced budget victories for Astoria, including the budget allocation for the senior affordable housing development. I want to thank my friend Council Member Constantinides and Astoria for their hospitality during our first town hall,” said Council Speaker Corey Johnson.
The FY19 Budget included $500 million for the Department of Housing Preservation & Development to fund six senior affordable housing projects across the City. Among them was a site at 31st Street and Broadway, currently a municipal parking lot that could yield over 100 units. This will help significantly meet Constantinides’ commitment, announced in his January 2018 State of the District address, to create 500 senior affordable housing units by the end of his term in three years. Nowhere is this type of housing more necessary than in District 22, where 22,000 residents are on the waitlist for senior affordable units.
Speaker Johnson and Council Member Constantinides also touted investments made in District 22 over the last five years, including more than $25 million the City has poured into the Hallets Cove Peninsula. In the FY19 budget alone, the Astoria Library branch received $3.25 million in partnership with Speaker Johnson, the Astoria Houses received roughly $250,000 for enhanced lighting and new security cameras around the community center, as well as millions in allocations for new technology, solar panels, and hydroponic labs at Council District 22 schools.
Both lawmakers fielded questions for over two hours about residents’ concerns for the neighborhood as well as suggestions on how to make it even better. State Sen. Michael Gianaris, Assembly Member Catherine Nolan, Council Member Barry Grodenchick attended the town hall, as did representatives for Public Advocate Letitia James, Comptroller Scott Stringer, Borough President Melinda Katz, and state Comptroller Thomas DiNapoli. Representatives for Community Board 1, Central Astoria Local Development Coalition, Astoria Park Alliance, Zone 126, Astoria Houses Residents Association, Old Astoria Neighborhood Association, Variety Boys & Girls Club, and Friends of Whitey Ford Field were also present.
Costa Constantinides represents the New York City Council’s 22nd District, which includes his native Astoria along with parts of Jackson Heights, Woodside, and East Elmhurst. He serves as chair of the Council’s Environmental Protection Committee and sits on four additional committees: Parks, Transportation, For-Hire Vehicles, and Land Use, as well as the sub-committee on Zoning and Franchises.