Pastor A.R. Bernard's Affordable Housing Village Rising Soon In New York


The provision of affordable housing units was expected to rise in East, New York as the project of Christian Cultural Center Pastor A.R. Bernard has now been formally reviewed after years of planning.

The "Innovative Urban Living" would be situated in the church's 10-acre parking lot adjacent to Starrett City. From its initial 2018 plan of building 2,100 units with 13 buildings ranging from two to 17 stories, the proposal was toned down to 2,050 apartments in eight buildings with 12 to 15 stories as agreed upon by the developers and community stakeholders, according to Brooklyn Paper.

After much consideration from both ends, the community's daycare and public spaces were designed to be larger than their original proposal. They also increase the number of parking spaces from 170,000 to 343,000 square feet seeing that the location was a mile away from the train station. The ground-floor retail would be utilized for a grocery store, greenspace, a trade school, a performing arts center, and a daycare.

Bernard, who partnered with Gotham Organization for this development, said that for the past five years, they had been meeting with the community stakeholders to garner information and feedback which led to the redefining of the design of the building. The megachurch pastor said that he's honored to propose a vision that gives their neighborhood chances for economic mobility and long-term quality of life.

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Easing Economic Gentrification

In his 2018 interview with The Christian Post, Bernard wanted to address the economic gentrification in New York by mixing affordable housing in the area. He said that working-class people and those in a certain economic bracket were being pulled out because of the issue.

What he envisioned was a sustainable community for everyone and a model that other cities across the country can replicate. According to the evangelical pastor, the development would comprise of tall buildings and maisonettes that would offer the neighborhood rental and homeownership choices.

After receiving an initial review hearing at the City Planning Commission, the project was submitted to the city's Uniform Land Use Review Procedure last month. The project was under 60-day evaluation by the local Community Board 5, which will run until mid-July before the casting of votes. Brooklyn Paper also reported that District Manager Melinda Perkins said that the board has met with developer representatives, multiple times in the last six months to discuss the project.

Since the primary goal of the development was to establish an income-based housing, the developer plans to earmark half of the complex's units for the lowest-income possible tenants who earn 30-60 percent of the regional median income or $36,000 to $72,000 for a family of three. The remaining apartments would be allocated to households earning 60-100 percent of AMI, or $72,000 to $120,000 for a family of three.

Despite the amount reflected being affordable to some, according to Institute for Children, Poverty, and Homelessness, 36% of East New York households earn less than 30% of the New York City Area Median Income (AMI) per year which makes the units unaffordable for them.

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