Pols join city reps for housing discussion 1

Darnley Jones of the Department of the Aging, right, speaks about the programs his agency offers as Councilman Peter Koo looks on.

To help their geriatric constituencies access the services that they can get as New Yorkers, Assemblywoman Nily Rozic (D-Fresh Meadows) and Councilman Peter Koo (D-Flushing) joined officials from the departments for the Aging and of Housing Preservation and Development, the New York City Housing Authority and Selfhelp Community Services at the nonprofit’s Benjamin Rosenthal Senior Center in Flushing last Friday.

A Koo staffer translated English remarks by the city agency representatives into Chinese, the language of many in the crowd.

After discussing the work performed by the aging department’s various bureaus, the DFTA director of outreach to the Queens community, Darnley Jones, discussed the agency’s senior employment program. “Many seniors retire but then they decide that they want to go back out to work,” Jones said. “So, they can contact the Department for the Aging and we can put them in contact with various providers that would like to have seniors come back out and work with them.”

Marcela Medina of NYCHA spoke about how seniors can apply to become tenants of the agency’s residential complexes. Although she urged them to apply online, a method that is available for speakers of many languages, Medina warned them that the agency has a backlist of housing applicants with more than 260,000 people due to its limited supply of units.

“Almost every language that you need is available,” she said. “And if it’s not there, you can call a number and request an application in the language that you need.”

NYCHA has facilities throughout the five boroughs; in Flushing, its properties include the Bland and Pomonok housing complexes. Tenants do not spend more than 30 percent of their income on rent payments.

Miguel Maldonado and Alexander McQuilkin of HPD discussed the Housing Connect process, during which seniors can apply to lotteries for spots at HPD affordable buildings. The specific location they talked about was Essex Crossing, a not-yet-completed complex on Manhattan’s Lower East Side that will have more than half the units reserved at below-market rates for seniors. Its waiting list opened on Monday.

Dorothy Cormier Kern of Selfhelp also discussed what the nonprofit, which runs affordable apartments for the geriatric population, offers to seniors. As with NYCHA, the nonprofit’s vacant residential units are scarce.

“We have social workers on staff that provide activities, parties, current events, exercises, health and wellness events,” she said. However, she added, Selfhelp has “very long waiting lists, unfortunately, because the programs are so popular and there are so many seniors in Queens. The waiting lists are anywhere from one to five years long.”

Selfhelp, she said, has open waiting lists for one-bedroom and studio apartments.

“Feel free to spread the word to all of your friends and your family, because if it doesn’t fit for you, maybe it will help someone else,” Rozic said.

The assemblywoman added that she encourages the seniors to reach out to her, Koo or state Sen. Toby Ann Stavisky (D-Flushing) with any questions about the housing programs.

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