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Maria Spivey (3rd from l), Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr (2nd from r), representatives from SAGE USA, HELP USA, NYC HPD, Regions Affordable Housing, Sterling National Bank, along with representatives from the NYC Council, the office of Governor Cuomo, and the office of Mayor de Blasio.

A new LGBTQ-friendly, low-income senior housing project is officially underway.

On Thursday, May 17 seniors of the LGBT community, SAGE, HELP USA, representatives of the governor and mayor’s office along with other local elected officials and leaders broke ground on the Crotona Senior Residences.

Located at 771 Crotona Park North, the development is actually the first of its kind in country.

 

Seniors of the LGBTQ+ community in the Bronx have hailed the project a victory.

“I thought I’d never see this day,” said 74-year-old Joyce Banks. “It’s been a long time coming and I’m glad.”

Banks explained she already applied to live in one of the 84 units at Crotona Senior Residences.

The property will be energy efficient, including solar fixtures, and have a community garden.

Alongside having housing for a group that had long faced housing discrimination, SAGE will run an LGBT senior center on the first floor of the building, which will include health and cultural programs, a computer area, and even provide meals to the seniors in the neighborhood.

“It is truly because of our LGBT elders and their activism that this project is happening,” said SAGE CEO Michael Adams during the ceremony.

SAGE is an organization that advocates and provides services for LGBT elders, one of which attested for the need to support those members of the community.

“Everyone deserves to grow old with dignity and respect and a little bit of happiness,” said 64-year-old Marie Spivey who explained that as she got older, her gender and sexual orientation made her feel increasingly concerned about her safety.

Spivey also planned to apply for housing at the new development.

Another Bronx SAGE constituent, Gwendolyn Offley, considered herself one of the lucky ones to have found subsidized housing elsewhere in the borough.

“This is a good thing for our community and we are blessed to see it being built,” said Offley.

The 75-year-old explained if she had not already found suitable housing that she would have likely applied to the Tremont development.

In addition to the inclusivity and the center, 26 of the one-bedroom and studio apartments at Crotona Senior Residences will be dedicated to housing homeless seniors.

The project, which cost $41.4 million, was funded by several state, city and local entities, a funding package that was challenging at times.

Borough President Diaz Jr, who contributed $600,000 to the project, explained one of the challenges was that construction was affected by a large rock outcropping on the lot that the contractor had to work around.

“Where there’s a will, there’s a way and the Bronx is resilient,” said the borough president on overcoming the physical obstacles of the project after the ceremony.

Construction of the Crotona Senior Residences is expected for completion by the end of 2019.

Other beneficiaries of the project include NYS Homes and Community Renewal who financed more than $20 million and NYC Housing Preservation and Development SARA Program, which contributed over $10 million, among other contributors.

Reach Reporter Sarah Valenzuela at (718) 260-4584. E-mail her at svalenzuela@cnglocal.com.