Vital Brookdale Ribbon Cutting
November 30, 2022

Governor Hochul Announces Completion of $82 Million Affordable and Supportive Housing Development in Brownsville

Governor Hochul Announces Completion of $82 Million Affordable and Supportive Housing Development in Brownsville
Vital Brookdale Complex Features 160 Apartments and Health-Focused Community Space in Energy-Efficient Modern New Building in Central Brooklyn
First Building Completed Under the State's Vital Brooklyn Initiative That is Creating 4,000 Affordable Homes and Addressing Health Disparities in Central Brooklyn

Governor Kathy Hochul today announced the completion of 160 affordable and supportive homes and over 25,000 square feet of health-focused community space in Brownsville, Brooklyn. Known as Vital Brookdale, the $82 million development is the first of ten affordable housing developments to be completed under the Vital Brooklyn Initiative to address historic inequities and disinvestment in Central Brooklyn. 

"Central Brooklyn's critical health and housing needs have gone unmet for far too long, but in response we are approaching them with bold and innovative solutions," Governor Hochul said. "Thanks to the Vital Brooklyn Initiative, we are working closely with local partners to create more housing, improve access to health care, and provide the types of supportive services that residents need to thrive. Vital Brookdale is the latest example of my administration's commitment to boosting the supply of quality of affordable homes for all New Yorkers."

Vital Brookdale complements Governor Hochul's goal of achieving two million climate friendly homes by 2030 and her sweeping plans to make housing more affordable, equitable, and stable. In the FY 2023 State Budget, the Governor introduced and successfully secured a $25 billion, five-year, comprehensive housing plan will increase housing supply by creating or preserving 100,000 affordable homes across New York including 10,000 with support services for vulnerable populations, plus the electrification of an additional 50,000 homes.

The development is part of the state's $1.4 billion Vital Brooklyn Initiative that is addressing chronic social, economic, and health disparities in Brooklyn's high-need communities by creating 4,000 units of affordable housing.

Located at 535 E. 98th St 11212, Chandler-Waterman's district, Vital Brookdale is a 160-apartment, seven-story building with 36 units set aside as supportive housing. There are 10 apartments for youth aging out of foster care and 26 apartments for individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities. On-site supportive services are provided by The New York Foundling. For the youth aging out of foster care, assistance is in concert with the NYS Office of Children and Family Services through participation in the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative.  Supportive services for the individuals with intellectual and/or developmental disabilities are supported by the NYS Office for People With Developmental Disabilities.

There are 32 studios, 63 one-bedroom, 59 two-bedroom, and six three-bedroom units. Most of the apartments will be reserved for households earning at or below 60 percent of the Area Median Income with 26 reserved for households earning up to 80 percent of the AMI.

The 25,000 square feet of health-focused community space will offer a medical clinic run by Brookdale Hospital, a community job training program, a community fresh food program and office space for The New York Foundling.

Residents have access to a second-floor terrace, and landscaped front and rear courtyards with a dog run, playground, and passive recreation and seating areas. There is free building-wide wireless internet access, in keeping with the Governor's goal of eliminating the digital divide; a multi-purpose community room; game room; library/resident co-working space; fitness room; laundry room; cold-storage locker and package rooms; and a bike storage room.

The development is pursuing Passive House Institute US (PHIUS) + 2015 certification, an international standard of building for maximized energy efficiency. Vital Brookdale has a 100kW roof-mounted solar photovoltaic system, high performance mechanical systems, insulation and windows, LED lighting, low-flow water fixtures, along with other energy efficient measures to enhance comfort, affordability, and sustainability.

The development team includes MDG Design + Construction, Smith & Henzy Affordable Group and The New York Foundling.

State financing for Vital Brookdale includes $13.9 million in permanent tax-exempt bonds, federal Low-Income Housing Tax Credits that will generate $32.8 million in equity and an additional $30.4 million in subsidy from New York State Homes and Community Renewal. NYSERDA's Multifamily New Construction Program will provide $300,000 in support along with more than $161,000 in NY Sun incentives. The New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities will provide funding for supportive services and rental subsidies for 26 supportive units and the New York State Office of Mental Health will provide funding for supportive services and rental subsidies for 10 supportive units.

Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said, "Vital Brookdale exemplifies how the state's Vital Brooklyn Initiative is improving access to healthcare, quality housing, job training, and community services. This $82 million investment created 160 new affordable homes in a building that has been designed to meet the highest standards for sustainability while providing valuable community space and a home for healthcare facilities that serve the neighborhood. Through this type of supportive and health-focused development, we are increasing the supply of much-needed housing and addressing decades of entrenched inequities in Central Brooklyn's neighborhoods."

New York State Office for People With Developmental Disabilities Commissioner Kerri E. Neifeld said, "We are excited to be part of the Vital Brookdale project, along with our fellow state agencies, and our provider partners.  The 26 units set aside for people with developmental disabilities increases people's opportunity to secure safe and affordable housing in their communities. We applaud Governor Hochul for leading the expansion of integrated and affordable housing opportunities for New Yorkers with developmental disabilities."

Office for Children and Family Services Commissioner Sheila J. Poole said, "I commend and congratulate Governor Hochul on Vital Brookdale and the safe, affordable housing options and critical supports it will provide for young people who need it most. This investment allows OCFS' longstanding commitment to ensuring stability for youth in foster care to extend into early adulthood. I cannot emphasize enough the importance of housing, as well as funding for on-site services for young people aging out of foster care. Having a home provides a sense of security and empowerment that is essential for transitioning to a new, exciting phase in their lives. It is equally important to have access to vital programs as they look toward a brighter future."

New York State Energy Research and Development Authority President and CEO Doreen M. Harris said, "NYSERDA congratulates the Vital Brookdale team as they cut the ribbon on this affordable housing complex that demonstrates a commitment to providing exceptional Passive House building performance to ensure the comfort and safety of Central Brooklyn's residents. From clean renewable solar energy collected on the rooftop to numerous energy efficient interior and exterior features, this project is a model for sustainable development and supports Governor Hochul's goal to develop 2 million climate friendly homes by 2030."

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said, "Affordable housing is becoming increasingly hard to find in New York City, harming neighborhoods like Brownsville that have been historically impacted by disinvestment and marginalization," said US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. "This is an important first step in addressing the major housing issue in our state and I want to thank Governor Hochul and the Vital Brooklyn Initiative for investing resources into creating affordable homes in neighborhoods like Brownsville."

Representative Yvette D. Clarke said, "Ensuring every New Yorker and their families have safe, warm spaces to call their own is more than our duty as public servants, but our humanitarian and moral obligation - one that has for far too long been neglected to the detriment of countless lives. Thankfully, recent years are changing that critical tide. The Vital Brookdale development represents the first piece in a series of efforts that will not only bring homes to our most vulnerable Brooklynites, but revitalize the communities they belong to. The only way to overcome the many long-standing inequities afflicting our state is to put in the necessary groundwork, and I am ecstatic to see Governor Hochul and her administration's commitment towards doing just that."

State Senator Roxanne J. Persaud said, "I thank NYS Homes & Community Renewal, Brookdale Hospital, New York Foundling and the project developers for bringing Vital Brookdale to fruition. Vital Brookdale will provide 160 units of critically needed housing in the Brownsville neighborhood, with the majority being available to households earning up to 60% of Area Median Income (AMI).  It is heartening that nearly one quarter of the apartments will have on-site supportive services for youth aging out of foster care or individuals with developmental disabilities."

Assemblywoman Monique Chandler-Waterman said, "Projects like Vital Brookdale are a critical piece in righting the wrong of a wealthy city that is underhoused, where 65,591 people sleep in city shelters, and the lack of support services that ensure our most vulnerable community members remain housed is insufficient. Not only is this a much-needed project, but it also fulfills a need for environmentally friendly, sustainable projects. New York State's Vital Brooklyn Initiative, which includes Vital Brookdale, is proof of what can be done when there is a will. I want to thank Governor Hochul, Office for People With Developmental Disabilities, Office for Children and Family Services, MDG Design and Construction, Smith & Henzy Advisory Group, and The New York Foundling for their work placing affordable, accessible housing in a community where there is a dire need. I look forward to more projects like this one."

Brooklyn Borough President Antonio Reynoso said, "The only way to build our way out of the housing crisis is the right way: with a commitment to affordability, to supportive services, and to developments that recognize the distinct needs of the people who call these apartments home. With wireless internet for all, green spaces, and amenities like a fitness room, laundry facility, and bike storage, Vital Brookdale is helping us raise the standard for affordable living in Brownsville and across Brooklyn. Thank you to our city and state partners for their hard work making Vital Brookdale a reality."                                                       

MDG Design + Construction, Principal Matthew Rooney Jr. said, "Vital Brookdale is the type of development that future developments will be modeled after. It has community-based healthcare, beautiful outdoor areas, green, sustainable features, and apartments that are completely modernized yet truly affordable. The residents of Vital Brookdale will lead safe and productive lives, and those who need services will have access to them thanks to the community development programs located on-site. Thank you to our partners for bringing this project to life and dedicating themselves to making Brownsville a stronger more resilient community."

Smith & Henzy Affordable Group Principal and Owner Timothy Henzy said, "The success of Vital Brookdale is the result of the combined efforts of the Brooklyn Community and the State of New York.  We are thrilled that we were provided the opportunity to partner with the community and State to make their vision for sustainable affordable housing a reality."

The New York Foundling President and CEO Melanie Hartzog said, "We are grateful to the administration for their partnership in helping create Vital Brookdale, offering opportunity and promise for the people and communities that The New York Foundling serves. At The Foundling, we continue to look for impactful ways to uplift youth aging out of foster care and people with developmental disabilities. We see Vital Brookdale as one example of many more to come that demonstrates the mutual good that stems from providing opportunities for our neighbors to reach their full potential. It's been a true joy to watch our residents' confidence grow as a result of having the resources necessary to succeed on their paths to independence."

One Brooklyn Health CEO LaRay Brown said, "One Brooklyn Health is very pleased to be part of this exciting project and the Vital Brooklyn Initiative. Safe affordable housing and accessible health care are inextricably linked and intrinsic to the economic stability of a community. We look forward to continuing to work with each of the partners in serving the families who will make this remarkable building home."

Revitalizing Central Brooklyn

Central Brooklyn has long suffered from disinvestment and marginalization that hinder the wellbeing of its residents. Residents experience measurably higher rates of health problems; limited access to healthy foods or opportunities for physical activity; and high rates of violence and crime. Central Brooklyn is also affected by wide economic disparities due to unemployment, high poverty levels, and inadequate access to high quality health care.

Ten development projects currently underway or completed and chosen through a competitive process, are the keys to advancing the Vital Brooklyn initiative's commitment to creating 4,000 affordable homes in Central Brooklyn, incorporating social, medical, and community services; recreational and educational opportunities; family housing; and apartments with supportive services.

About the Vital Brooklyn Initiative

The Vital Brooklyn Initiative was launched in spring 2017 to address the range of disparities that affect residents of Brooklyn and to create a new model for community development and wellness in Brooklyn's most vulnerable communities. Each Assembly Member in Central Brooklyn convened a Community Advisory Council consisting of community leaders, local experts, advocates, and other stakeholders to consider the unique needs and opportunities in their districts, and to develop long-term solutions. State Senators representing parts of Central Brooklyn were also actively engaged in the process. A total of 25 community meetings brought together nearly 100 key community stakeholders.  RFPs for the ten sites were released in 2018 and 2019, with development partners selected through 2020. Five projects have begun construction, with the remaining projects and phases beginning over the next few years.