‘A new beginning for East New York’: Construction begins on $1.2B affordable housing project

governor kathy hochul at east new york affordable housing groundbreaking
Governor Kathy Hochul announced construction has begun on a new $1.2 million affordable housing development in East New York on Dec. 19.
Photo courtesy Office of Governor Kathy Hochul

Construction has begun on a $1.2 billion affordable housing project in East New York, Governor Kathy Hochul announced on Monday. Dubbed “Alafia,” the initial phase of the project will include 576 new affordable apartments, green spaces, an outpatient medical clinic and more.

“We are not just building housing for the people of East New York, we’re investing in a community so that generations of New Yorkers can flourish and thrive,” Hochul said in a statement. “This truly transformative investment will put us on the path toward mending the societal cracks in the system to ensure all New Yorkers have a chance to prosper.”

rendering of new affordable housing development in east new york
A rendering of the future development, the Alafia, in East New York. Image courtesy Governor Kathy Hochul’s Office

Alafia is a redevelopment of a Brooklyn Developmental Center property and is part of the state’s Vital Brooklyn Initiative, which aims to address and correct inequities in Central Brooklyn by building new housing and community spaces, investing in community-based healthcare, and more. The construction of Alafia will be overseen by a development team composed of RiseBoro Community Partnership, Services for the UnderServed, APEX Building Group and L+M Development Partners.

When finished, the development is expected to create 2,400 affordable housing units across 28 acres, an urban farm and green spaces, shopping centers and more. One Brooklyn Health will open an outpatient medical facility on the property, which will serve residents of the Alafia and the surrounding neighborhood. 

While this investment is currently the largest of its kind in New York State history, Hochul made it clear that much more work needed to be done to catch up to the high demand for housing in NYC.

“This is an ambitious goal,” said Hochul during the announcement on Dec. 19. “We are trying to put forth a plan that people are kind of stunned by, but working with Mayor Adams and our partners in the legislature — because we need to make some changes to the legislature as well as the city council — we want to build over 800,000 new [affordable housing] units over the next decade because I believe that affordable, beautiful, safe housing is a basic human right. And that right needs to be granted to more New Yorkers right now.”

The project is in conjunction with the governor’s $25 billion, five-year comprehensive housing plan, which aims to create 100,000 new affordable housing units across the state.

On Dec. 16, Adams and Hochul announced the groundbreaking of Dec. 14 of Logan Fountain, a project which will convert unused gas stations into affordable housing in East New York — and last month, the governor attended the ribbon-cutting of Vital Brookdale, a new, 160-unit affordable housing development. 

groundbreaking of the alafia in east new york
The first residents of the first buildings at the Alafia will hopefully move in in about two years — but the entire redevelopment will take about 10 years to complete. Image courtesy Governor Kathy Hochul’s Office

With the addition of Alafia, Hochul and other city and state leaders hope to dramatically expand affordable housing to help ease the current housing and homelessness crisis in New York.

RiseBoro Community Partnership CEO Scott Short praised the project and the opportunity to invest in underserved communities.

“This is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to invest in an underserved community on a scale that’s pretty unprecedented in New York City community development work,” Short told Brooklyn Paper. “We are going to finish up with around 2,400 units of 100% affordable and supportive housing with a real focus on integrating healthy living into the housing environment. This development really understands that health and housing outcomes are inextricably linked and a healthy life cannot be achieved without safe, stable and affordable housing.”

According to Short, the very first resident will hopefully be able to move in around two years from today, but the entire Alafia project will take around 10 years to fully complete. 

larger rendering of east new york affordable housing
The full redevelopment will include 2,400 new affordable apartments plus community spaces, retail, and a medical clinic. Image courtesy Governor Kathy Hochul’s Office

The first phase of the development will include two new buildings — one six-story building with 124 apartments and one 15-story building with 452 apartments — with a 15,000-square-foot medical clinic and 7,000 square feet of retail space. Of the 576 new units, 136 will be supportive units reserved for people with mental health conditions and developmental disabilities, with services provided by Services for the UnderServed. 

Both buildings will be outfitted with geothermal heat hump systems, rooftop solar panels, and more. 

“Home is not just a building,” said Dr. Jorge R. Petit, President and CEO of Services for the UnderServed (SUS). “Home is stability, safety, community, and a sense of belonging. As a service provider for New Yorkers in need, it is essential to continue to provide homes and foster safe communities with access to green spaces and needed community amenities.”