City Announces Updates on Infrastructure and Affordable Homeownership Projects in Southeast Queens

Render of the modular housing to be constructed to provide affordable homeownership opportunities in Southeast Queens. Image Credit: HPD.

On March 9, 2022, Mayor Eric Adams announced updates to two infrastructure and affordable housing projects in Southeast Queens. 

Sewer and Water Main Infrastructure Improvements

The first project, a $49.3 million infrastructure upgrade to relieve flooding of homes and streets in Rochdale is complete. The project brings over six miles of new sewers and water mains to the neighborhood across 78 individual blocks. The holding capacity of the sewers increased with the installation of three additional underground chambers and a replacement of another older chamber. Subsequently, the streets were also restored, with 490,240 square feet of asphalt laid down, 65,840 square feet of sidewalk and 19,370 feet of curbs reconstructed. In addition, 890 square feet of new sidewalk and 995 feet of new curbs were constructed. The sidewalks and curbs were graded to help channel storm water into the new catch basins to improve street drainage. 

Additional improvements included the addition of six new fire hydrants, replacing 33 hydrants, and installing or updating over 160 pedestrian ramps to better comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act. 

The project began in March 2018 and stayed $5.7 million under budget. It is part of a larger Southeast Queens Initiative, a $2.5 billion effort to build out a comprehensive drainage system in Southeast Queens where flooding and drainage issues are major problems. The Initiative consists of 44 projects. Eighteen of these projects are substantially completed, fourteen are in design, and three are in active construction. The project was a collaboration between the New York City Department of Environmental Protection, the Department of Transportation, and the Department of Design and Construction.

Affordable Housing Construction 

The second project, “Habitat Net Zero” will see the demolition of thirteen vacant and dilapidated houses that were previously owned by NYCHA for the construction of sixteen new homes for affordable homeownership. The project is through the Department of Housing PReservation and Development’s (HPD) “Open Door” program, which funds the new construction of cooperative and condominium buildings which are affordable to moderate and middle income households. Homeowners that buy these units will agree to owner-occupy these units for a regulatory period. 

The land will be transferred to the Interboro Community Land Trust to ensure long-term affordability. Agreements between HPD, the Trust, and homeowners ensure homeowners have the support necessary to maintain their homes and preserve the affordability. HPD will enter a 40 year regulatory agreement with the Trust, and the Trust will enter into 99-year renewable ground leases with each homeowner. 

The homes will be developed by Habitat for Humanity New York City and Westchester County and will be designed to Passive House standards, which ensure a reduction in energy use, including for heating and cooling. The homes will be fitted with rooftop solar panels and heat-pump technology for heating and cooling, which will result in reduced costs and near net zero energy use. Thirteen homes will be built with modular construction, and another three will be gut rehabilitations of the existing structures. 

Additional funding will be financed through the New York State Affordable Housing Corporation, and Reso A funds from Queens Borough President Donovan Richards, Council Speaker Adrienne Adams, and former Council Member I. Daneek Miller. An Article XI tax exemption will also apply. Construction financing is also provided by the Local Initiatives Support Corporation and Nonprofit Finance Fund.  

Mayor Adams, who grew up in the area, stated, “This community represented the promise of a better life for my family, and I am going to keep that promise for generations of New Yorkers. Government has ignored this community for too long, denying them their fair share of investments and services — that ends in my administration. These projects will make life better for the residents of Southeast Queens today and those who will be able to move here in the future, and I’m proud to say that this is just the beginning.”

Council Speaker Adams, who also grew up in this area of Southeast Queens, stated, “For too long, Southeast Queens has endured systemic disinvestment and neglect, resulting in widening disparities that persist today. With the completion of the $49.3 million water infrastructure project in Rochdale and the start of construction for Habitat Net Zero — a project to deliver new affordable homeownership opportunities — our communities are seeing the investments and improvements that we have always deserved. I thank Mayor Adams, Habitat NYC, Interboro CLT, and all of the city agencies involved in making these projects possible.”

By: Veronica Rose (Veronica is the CityLaw fellow and a New York Law School graduate, Class of 2018.)


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