Housing for homeless, income-eligible folks
After years of planning, vying for community support, and construction, WellLife Network finally cut the ribbon on a brand new five-story affordable apartment complex in Glendale.
Dedicated to serving people across the five boroughs and Long Island with developmental disabilities or mental illnesses, WellLife Network plans to continue its mission to empower individuals to live dignified lives and achieve their goals with this new supportive mixed use apartment building.
The building, located at 80-97 Cypress Avenue, has 66 units, which are a combination of studio, one-bedroom, and two-bedroom apartments.
Forty of these units are reserved for the homeless, while the remaining 26 units are for individuals in the community who meet low-income eligibility criteria, or 60 percent of the area median income.
Sherry Tucker, CEO of WellLife Network, is saddened by the fact that over 25,000 applications were submitted for the 26 community units, revealing how much demand there is for affordable housing in New York.
“At WellLife, we work very hard to be good neighbors, wherever we go, and we are always interested in trying to improve the areas in any way we can,” she said. “We’d love to be an asset to the neighborhood and really try to help in any way we can to make it be the very best it can be, and we always want to be a part of the community in any way possible.”
On June 9, WellLife Network commemorated the official grand opening of the building with a ribbon cutting ceremony.
Local officials attended the event to compliment the project, including Ingrid Lewis-Martin, chief adviser to Mayor Eric Adams; Ahmed Tigani, deputy commissioner of NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development; and New York City Councilman Robert Holden.
“WellLife, in partnership with the New York City Department of Housing, Preservation, and Development has created a model mixed-housing development for some of our most vulnerable residents in need of supportive services, as well as for New Yorkers who just need good and decent affordable housing,” Lewis-Martin said. “We strongly encourage other developers to ‘honor the call’ to create affordable housing with amenities in communities that systematically have been on the fringes. Kudos to WellLife and HPD for a job well done.”
Tucker said that WellLife’s proposal to open this apartment complex was approved unanimously by Community Board 5.
Walter Sanchez, chairman of CB5’s Land Use Committee, said that the board’s decision to approve was the right thing for the neighborhood.
“We know that every area has to do their part in supportive housing, and we think this fits in very well with us, so our board voted overwhelmingly to approve the project,” he said.
WellLife also held public forums to hear the community’s concerns—many of which they took into consideration when tweaking the specs of the project, such as potential traffic congestion and excessive height.
However, some neighbors on Cypress Avenue are skeptical of what changes the new apartment complex might bring to the community, especially with widespread concerns about the nearby men’s homeless shelter on Cooper Avenue, Cooper Rapid Rehousing Center.
“We’re not happy about this; it’s going to be a mess,” one neighbor, who requested to remain anonymous, said. “That’s why my landlord is selling this house and we’re leaving.”
Another neighbor, Yaffa Tamano, said that she’s also not in favor of the project because it’s out of character for the rest of the block, and might bring unwanted change to the neighborhood.
Councilman Robert Holden, who has openly criticized the Cooper homeless shelter in the past, emphasized that WellLife’s new affordable housing project is in no way comparable to it.
“This is actually a home for people; they’re going to stay there. This is not something like a shelter where they’re transient and they come and they have problems,” Holden said.
“This place actually supports and treats them … Some have mental health issues, some are just falling on hard times, and some are coming from shelters, but they will get their own apartment, which is great.”
Tucker said that the building has various amenities and services that will significantly improve the quality of life for residents, such as 24/7 front desk coverage, on-site support services, a laundry room, gym, and a deck that offers a perfect view of the city skyline.
She noted that the site just passed a final routine HPD inspection, and families could start moving in as early as this week.
“The Cypress Avenue residence helps WellLife achieve its ongoing vision to create income-eligible, supportive, and affordable mixed-use housing developments that offer a safe and nurturing environment where all tenants feel a sense of belonging to a larger community,” she said.
Editor’s Note: Walter Sanchez is the publisher of BQE Media. His recent remarks were made in his capacity as chairman of CB 5’s Land Use Committee.