“Let’s Get Started”: Catholic Charities and Archdiocese Stand Ready to Work With Mayor on Affordable Housing

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photoHis Eminence Timothy Cardinal Dolan, Archbishop of New York and Catholic Charities Executive Director Msgr. Kevin Sullivan applaud Mayor de Blasio’s just-announced $41 billion, five-borough, 10-year affordable housing plan to serve more than a half- million New Yorkers.

Called the most expansive and ambitious affordable housing agenda of its kind in the nation’s history, this plan to build or preserve 200,000 affordable apartments across all five boroughs was laid out today, May 5, 2014, by Mayor Bill de Blasio at a press conference at College Ave. in the Bronx. Mayor de Blasio pledged that the housing plan would reach New Yorkers ranging from those with very low incomes at the bottom of the economic ladder all the way to those in the middle class facing ever-rising rents in their neighborhoods.

“New York City’s current crisis of housing affordability threatens the basic human right to decent housing,” Cardinal Dolan said when he announced his support of the new housing plan.

“Since the 1960s, the Catholic Church in all boroughs of New York City, through parishes, religious communities, community-based organizations and Catholic Charities, has been at the heart of the development and preservation of affordable housing.

“I applaud the Mayor’s far-reaching 10-year plan to build and preserve 200,000 affordable housing units throughout our city, and the Church in all boroughs of New York City looks forward to continuing to work with NYC and Mayor de Blasio to help achieve this important affordable housing goal.”

The Catholic commitment to affordable housing in New York City is illustrated by over 50 years of experience constructing, preserving and rehabilitating housing for the poor, the low income working families, seniors and persons with special needs.

Through the dedicated long-term commitment of parishes, clergy, religious communities, Catholic Charities and affiliated community based organizations more than 6,000 units of affordable housing for financially strapped families, elderly persons and formerly homeless individuals have been developed in every borough of New York City.

To emphasize this support, Msgr. Sullivan spoke in person at the mayor’s press conference today.

“Housing is a basic human right,” Msgr. Sullivan said. “The dignity of the human person – made in the image of God – is threatened when an individual or family does not have adequate housing.”

Msgr. Sullivan provided examples of the Church’s past, present and future commitment to affordable housing. They include Highbridge where for the past three decades Msgr. Sakano and Jorge Battista have rebuilt a neighborhood with almost 2000 units of housing. They include over 4000 units of affordable housing for seniors, families, the formerly homeless and persons with AIDS/HIV built under the leadership of Catholic Charities of Brooklyn and Queens including Bishop DiMarzio, Robert Siebel and John Tynan. And they include 3000 units of housing built and preserved by religious communities such as the Ursalines and Dominicans and the Sisters of Charity, Church-related community organizations and leadership of Msgr. Jenik, particularly in West Farms and Bedford Park.

“Less than a mile to the east on the Franklin Avenue Hill there is property that has been St. Augustine parish’s sacred worship space spanning three centuries,” Msgr. Sullivan added. “That worship community, though still vibrant, has become smaller and now worships in a neighboring parish church.

“That Church building was razed to prepare the site for affordable housing. It stands ready to be part of this initiative. This site will remain a sacred space because on it individuals and families will have a decent place to live, fulfill their potential and raise their families. Here human dignity will be honored and this space held sacred (by creating affordable housing for non-Catholics and Catholics alike.)

“Mr. Mayor, thank you for this initiative. Let’s get started.”

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