Mayor Bill de Blasio hosted a town hall-style meeting with nearly 300 senior citizens on the Upper West Side Wednesday, but some say his proposed 10,000 new units of affordable housing for seniors might not even begin to address the growing shortage. NY1's Lindsey Christ filed the following report.
"If we don't take very, very substantial steps, we will essentially lose the New York City that we have known and loved for all these years," De Blasio said at the town hall.
That was the message from de Blasio to a group of seniors Wednesday at the Lincoln Square Neighborhood Center as he pushes his plan to build or preserve 200,000 affordable apartments over the next ten years; 10,000 of those units would be specifically reserved for senior citizens.
But key parts of the plan will need to be approved by the City Council in the next few weeks. The mayor has run into opposition in all five boroughs leading up to that critical vote.
Many worry that the plan doesn't do enough to counteract gentrification.
"I will listen to every question, I'll give every answer, I'll follow up on your concerns, but I'm also going to tell you: I need your support," de Blasio said. "I need your support for our affordable housing plan."
Questions ranged from what the mayor is doing about maintaining crumbling apartments in city housing authority buildings, to where the new affordable housing units will be located.
"In Fort Totten, we have a bunch of houses that are rundown, not doing anything," one attendee said. "Can that be fixed? Maybe make it available for some of us that need a place to reside?"
De Blasio answered questions for nearly two hours from the mostly friendly audience.
"I think it was so wonderful that the mayor stayed…and spoke individually to people that have problems," one woman said.
"What I got out of the meeting is the mayor is very committed to the elderly and for housing," said another attendee.
Meanwhile, the senior advocacy group LiveOn NY released the results of a survey Tuesday that suggests 200,000 low-income seniors are on waiting lists for affordable apartments, waiting an average of seven years.
So, the mayor's plan of 10,000 new units of affordable housing for seniors might not even begin to address the growing shortage.