Hizzoner talks senior housing over pastrami sandwiches in Midwood

Hizzoner talks senior housing over pastrami sandwiches in Midwood
Lunch pals: Mayor DeBlasio, Assembylman Steve Cymbrowitz (D-Midwood), and seniors chatted about the proposed “mansion tax” — which seeks to help fund more affordable housing for senior citizens — over grub at the Mirage Diner on March 9.
Photo by Georgine Benvenuto

Lunch is served — with a side of affordable housing!

Mayor DeBlasio and Assemblyman Steve Cymbrowitz (D–Midwood) sat down for lunch with three senior citizens at the Mirage Diner in Midwood on March 9 to discuss Hizzoner’s proposed “mansion tax,” which seeks to create more funding for affordable housing for seniors by taxing the sale of homes worth more than $2 million.

Cymbrowitz, who chairs the Assembly’s Housing Committee, is sponsoring the bill — the Elder Rental Assistance Program — where it requires approval in order to take effect. Chatting candidly over some bacon and eggs was a great opportunity for seniors to express to the Mayor the hardships they go through to pay their rent, and why such a program is needed, said Cymbrowitz.

“It went very well. I think he got a very warm reception from the people in the diner. It was important for him to hear first hand what the seniors in my district are going through as far as paying their rent, which is why I put this legislation in. It’s necessary for those who can afford it to help those who need it the most, and that’s our seniors,” said Cymbrowitz, whose district is home to about 25,000 seniors, more than the citywide average. “The goal of this program is to make sure our seniors can stay in their homes, can stay in their neighborhood, and stay in their community where they have lived most of their lives, and this is a way that we can do that.”

And the three seniors didn’t hold back on sharing their struggles while Hizzoner chomped on his pastrami sandwich. One of the women, who lives in Gravesend and attended the luncheon, agrees with the tax, and was happy to get a chance to speak with the politicians to help them understand the dire need of such a program, said Rosalie Caliendo, 70.

“It was very good, it was nice to hear that somebody, the Mayor, is in tune with the seniors, with the elderly, about how we are being priced out of the market,” she said. “We spoke about how difficult it is, like how much we have had to give up in order to pay our rent. Like we’ve had to give up going out with our friends, having dinner with our friends, social occasions. And how you have to juggle.”

But the bill is expected to be blocked in the Republican-controlled state Senate.

Reach reporter Julianne Cuba at (718) 260–4577 or by e-mail at jcuba@cnglocal.com. Follow her on Twitter @julcuba.

More from Around New York