The holiday season is almost here, but for Benito Vega Gonzalez, an important gift came early: an affordable housing unit in Far Rockaway.
Gonzalez is one of 154 seniors to receive keys to units in the Beach Channel Senior Apartments, a new development in Far Rockaway that opened on Tuesday.
“When they gave me the key, I got emotional. Tears came out,” he said. “I’ve been waiting so long, I never expected for the apartment to be such a nice place.”
The new development, by the Arker Companies, is home to 100 percent affordable housing units for low-income seniors.
Before getting this key, Gonzalez, 69, was living in a basement unit with no furniture in Queens. Before that, he had been living in the Bronx with his girlfriend, but after she passed away, he had to give affordable housing unit back to New York City housing, as it was in her name.
Now, Gonzalez has been granted a Section 8 voucher for this affordable housing unit near his family, meaning he has a place to welcome his seven children and many grandchildren.
“To get this [affordable housing unit] is one of the greatest experiences that I have ever had,” he said. “This is my Christmas present.”
Far Rockaway affordable housing marks progress for NYC
City Council Member Donovan Richards, Housing Preservation and Development Commissioner Maria Torres-Springer, Borough President Melinda Katz and others were onsite with Gonzalez for the development ribbon cutting on Tuesday.
Forty six of the 154 new Far Rockaway apartments are reserved for formerly homeless seniors, according to the company.
The Beach Channel development is one of the first projects completed under the city’s $350 million program to finance affordable housing especially for low-income seniors. The Senior Affordable Rental Apartments Program allows this development to serve seniors who earn less than $36,300 per year.
OVer the next 10 years, officials plan to build and preserve 10,000 affordable housing apartments to seniors.
“As people look to call Queens their home it is more important than ever to create affordable housing for our senior citizens, especially for those seniors who need supportive services,” Katz said in a statement. “The arrival of this affordable, storm-resilient development in Far Rockaway is something we can all be thankful for this Thanksgiving holiday.”