An eight-story, 121-unit affordable housing development for seniors opened last week in Bedford-Stuyvesant.
The development, called Herkimer Gardens, is for New Yorkers aged 62 and above, who have been homeless or live below the poverty line. Rents start at $560 a month for studios and one-bedroom apartments.
The complex, located at 491 Herkimer St., has gone up on the site of the former parking lot of Interfaith Medical Center, a full-service non-profit hospital. The new development, with 60 units offering supportive care, includes 6,000 square feet of in-house healthcare space.
The building includes recreational and community space as well as basic services. Tenants have access to multiple computers, a fully equipped gym, a yoga studio, a common terrace with a panoramic view of the city and laundry facilities on each floor. There is also a reading room, with the Brooklyn Public Library contributing books and other materials.
The development has already changed the lives of some of its new tenants.
“Last year, I was homeless, living in a shelter,” said Kathy Johnson, one of Herkimer Gardens first residents. “Then I had to carry my clean laundry up five flights of stairs. Now, I can just walk down the hallway to the washing machines.”
Johnson said she is most excited to live in proximity to the Brooklyn Botanical Garden and to have a stove in her apartment.
Developers focused on integrating the facility within Brooklyn’s urban landscape. The building stands in the heart of a neighborhood with the most brownstones in New York.
The facility has opened at a time when the state’s senior population is surging. Nearly 3.5 million residents across the state are now 65 and above.
Additionally, many seniors are living below the poverty line.
For instance, according to a 2021 report from NYC’s Center for an Urban Future, an independent research organization focused on the city’s economy, the number of senior New Yorkers living below the poverty line increased by 37% over the past decade.
In Brooklyn, the poverty rate for seniors was 20.9% in 2021, representing more than 80,000 residents. The figure has improved, however, with the poverty rate among seniors being 24.2% in 2011.
Finding affordable housing remains a major problem for many New Yorkers with a significant number struggling to afford the rent.
“The biggest stress everyone in Brooklyn has right now is how to make the rent,” said NYS Attorney General Letitia James who attended the opening. “Seniors deserve to live their golden years in comfort.”
Gov. Kathy Hochul’s administration has committed to building 100,000 affordable housing units over five years. The state had previously pledged to build 2,000 new affordable homes – including those at Herkimer Gardens – as part of the Vital Brooklyn initiative.
The new development, a New York State-funded project, will be overseen by Federation of Organizations, a major provider of health and wellness services for seniors and children. Mega Contracting Group, and Urban Architectural Initiatives oversaw the design and development of the complex.
“The priority was to build a beautiful building where people would want to live and could enjoy themselves, using the amenities that they deserve,” said architect Alen Moghaddam, partner at UAI. “The circulation through the common spaces in the lobby and the first floor take me back to seeing my grandpa walking around the house when he got older and needed more room to move and a path to follow. That’s something we kept in mind.”