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Queens Chronicle

Grandparents, kids housing delayed

Construction on socially conscious project may start in summer 2014

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Posted: Thursday, November 7, 2013 10:30 am | Updated: 11:33 am, Thu Nov 14, 2013.

Construction will be delayed until next summer on a Queens housing complex that will be dedicated to grandparents and their grandchildren.

Pastor Victor Hall of the Calvary Baptist Church in Jamaica is affiliated with the project slated for Guy R. Brewer Boulevard and 112th Road.

He said that the newest round of delays is due to numerous legal issues with the state.

“Really, it basically boils down to New York State and the levels of approval,” Hall said. “For lack of a better word: just basic bureaucracy.”

People associated with the project say that the delays are due to the process of receiving permits from local and state agencies, particularly the city’s Department of Environmental Protection.

Completion of the project has been a goal of the individuals involved for nearly a decade, particularly Peter Florey of the local development agency D&F.

“This project is vitally important to many of the grandparents who are caring for their grandchildren who are in dire need of affordable housing and also in need of the types of services that we will be providing such as counseling, such as mentoring, to both the grandparents as well as the grandchildren,” Florey said

The project is part of an effort to deal with a growing portion of grandparents who have to raise their grandchildren due to issues involving the children’s parents.

“So, you have a situation where a lot of grandparents are raising children, [children] of their children who are incarcerated or the children who have become addicted to drugs and cannot function responsibly as parents,” Hall said.

“It’s important because it addresses the needs of a growing demographic in our community, which is grandparents who are now, for various reasons, some very obvious, grandparents who are forced to raise their children,” he added.

In the United States, the number of grandparents raising grandchildren is at its highest level in 40 years, according to information obtained by USA Today.

Currently, approximately 2.5 million grandparents are raising their grandchildren because their birth parents are deceased, imprisoned, have mental issues, or have substance addictions.

In New York, 100,000 grandparents are in the position of chief caretaker for their grandchildren, according to information obtained from the city.

Hall believes it is important for children to have a safe place to be raised and fostered.

“It helps them to be able to raise these kids in a safe and nurturing environment,” he said. “In New York City, the number one priority is affordable and safe housing and that is what it provides.”

Hall and Florey stressed the importance of the complex’s affordability. Since most grandparents are retired and live on fixed incomes, they believe that housing such as this is necessary to prevent grandparents from having to return to work, where opportunities for employment may be small due to their advanced age.

“It’s extremely important,” Florey said. “We are really looking forward to the day when we can open the doors and welcome in our new residents.”

The proposal has gained the support of the local community and of politicians. Outgoing Queens Borough President Helen Marshall has pledged about $500,000.

So too has Congressman Gregory Meeks (D-Queens and Nassau), whose district includes the location where the complex will be built.

Other politicians in the area have also pledged and have promised additional funding for various parts of the complex, including money for a gaming and computer center.

The project began through a support group for seniors at Calvary Baptist Church.

After speaking with the community board about the issue, the project began moving closer towards reality.

Florey has heavily touted the support that the proposal has received from individuals living and working in the surrounding neighborhoods.

“The people in the community are overwhelmingly in favor of this project,” he continued. “We have been working on this now for about eight years. We have met with all of the community groups about this.”

In every instance, he said, they have been favorably received and have gotten unanimous support.”

The plan is one of many that Florey has worked on in nearly a decade since forming D & F Development Group in 2005 with Leonard D’Amico.

The Nassau County-based organization has already been involved with numerous affordable housing projects, and Florey said they are in the process of working on others.

The grandparent project, according to Hall, will take about 18 months to complete.

Construction work is scheduled to commence in the summer of 2014.

Hall believes that community support will help propel the project to completion and says that the project will be beneficial to all parties.

“So it will be a win-win in many ways for a lot of people,” he said.

Welcome to the discussion.