A New Home for the New Year

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We’ve all heard there is no place like home for the holidays. Late last year, after waiting and praying for ten years, I finally got to spend the holidays in a safe, warm home in the Rockaways. But for many seniors like me, housing is not a given.

The conversation around New York’s housing crisis is making many headlines lately, and with good reason. I know from personal experience how being without a home impacts one’s personal dignity, health and family life.

I am 75 years old and a mother of five children. I retired in 2003 after working for the Board of Education for over 35 years. I have beat cancer twice. Suddenly, I had to apply for Section 8, which was not where I expected to be at that stage of my life.

Finding the right home when you’re older is difficult. Seniors like me want to live independently as much as possible. We want to be in a community that’s friendly, safe and engaging. We want a place that is warm in the winter. And we want some level of security against natural disasters.

For 35 years, I lived in Arverne. In 2007, after my children moved out, I moved into a small one-bedroom apartment where the heat ran on electricity and was very costly. I was on the ground floor and lost everything when Hurricane Sandy hit, except for my hope and faith.

Late last year, things took a turn for the better. I moved into a spacious apartment at Beach Channel Senior Residence in Far Rockaway. When the leasing office team took me up to the apartment for the first time, the door opened, and I was full of joy.

My apartment has a well-equipped kitchen, which is extremely convenient for people my age, who don’t always have the strength to work with outdated kitchenware. When the weather gets cold, I just have to push a button. No painful electricity bills just for heating my home.

With many security cameras throughout the building, I feel constantly protected. And given my unfortunate experience with Sandy, the building’s storm-resilient measures make all the difference in the world.

I feel safe and independent, in a community I love. I have a beautiful apartment that I can call home in the same neighborhood where I raised my children. And most importantly, I can invite my grandchildren and the rest of the family over, not just for the holidays but all year long.

A special thanks to caring people like Council Member Donovan Richards, a champion for affordable housing, city leaders who helped fund this project, and the Arker Companies, who built Beach Channel Senior Residence and tailored its units to the needs of vulnerable seniors. I pray that all seniors who struggle to find a home someday receive the same life-changing gift.

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