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Building being developed in West Farms by Comunilife will include social services for special needs people

Boston Road project promises affordable/supportive housing

The existing structure at 2064 Boston Road, which was built in 1902, served as a nursing home for elderly women and as a home for unwed mothers during its long history. More recently Communilife used it as office space.
Bronx Times
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A new building proposed by a social service agency promises to bring needed affordable housing units to the borough.

Social service provider Comunilife is planning to build on the success of its El Rio I housing development in West Farms by building a similar structure next door that mixes supportive housing for people with special needs and low income housing at 2064 Boston Road.

The new building, called El Rio II, will include 78-units in total, including 47 units of supportive housing and 31 units of low-income housing for people earning less that 60 percent of the Area Median Income, according to a Community Board 6 letter.

In the New York City Region, 60 percent of AMI in 2017 is $40,080 for one person, according to the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s website.

El Rio II is expected to be 46,500 square feet and be completed in 2020, according to Comunilife officials.

All of the units will be studio apartments.

According to NYC Department of Buildings filings, the construction includes six stories, including living space, and a lounge, laundry room, and computer lab on the first floor.

“We are committed to creating affordable housing because of the great need that we have in the community for low-income housing,” said Rosa Gil, president of Comunilife, adding “The issue of affordable housing in New York City is getting greater and greater.”

The project would also create temporary and permanent jobs for community members, she said.

Currently, there is a structure at the site, built in 1902, and given its historical nature, elements from the original building will be retained for a museum-type display in the new building, said Ellen Kackman, Comunilife vice-president.

The current structure was a nursing home for elderly women and a place for unwed mothers and orphanage in days of yore.

Gil drew a parallel between the building’s first uses and the planned uses for the new building, which in its supportive housing seeks to serve a group of people that are not always welcome in every community.

More recently, the existing building served as office space for Comunilife and office and programming space for the Bronx River Arts Center through June.

CB 6 greenlighted the project in 2015, and the board expressed its continued support in a letter dated Wednesday, November 29.

“Having witnessed Comunilife successfully develop, tenant and maintain a similar housing project in our community, the community board members have the utmost confidence Comunilife will continue to achieve equal success with El Rio II,” stated the CB 6 letter.

According to the CB 6 letter, the special needs people that will be served in 47 supportive housing units at the El Rio II are “individuals living with HIV and AIDS.”

Councilman Ritchie Torres is supportive of the plan.

“The 2064 Boston Road site has served the West Farms community for many years in various forms: as senior housing, a community center and a church,” said Torres. “Now, Comunilife is choosing to bring the site back to its original use, as quality affordable and supportive housing, which I support.”

According to Comunilife, funding for the $24.5 million project is being provided by private equity and NYS Homes and Community Renewal.

Reach Reporter Patrick Rocchio at (718) 260–4597. E-mail him at procchio@cnglocal.com. Follow him on Twitter @patrickfrocchio.
Posted 12:00 am, December 6, 2017
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