East New York

East Brooklyn Congregations rally draws 750

October 26, 2015 By Francesca Norsen Tate Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Pictured cutting the ribbon on Redwood Senior Living’s residence on Schenk Ave. in East New York are (from left) Eudosia Rodriguez, Rev. David K. Brawley, Olivia Wilkins and Bishop David Benke. Eagle photos by Francesca N. Tate

Leaders Cut Ribbon on New Redwood Senior Living Complex

More than 750 members of East Brooklyn Congregations (EBC) marched to the Redwood Senior Living residence in East New York on Sunday. During the rally and march, EBC leaders demanded that Mayor Bill De Blasio build 150 more affordable senior developments like Redwood on public housing parking lots across the city, and that he hasten and complete the many backlogged repairs in current New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA) housing.

A key part of this rally was a strong admonition to the mayor, who some perceive has abandoned his commitment to affordable housing. EBC members also believe de Blasio has ignored the citizens to whom he made promises on housing issues — both before his election and later, at a heavily attended Metro Industrial Areas Foundation symposium held at the New York Marriott at the Brooklyn Bridge in March, 2014.

On Sunday, starting with a brief service at St. Paul Community Baptist Church, the EBC leaders then marched to the brand new Redwood Senior Living complex on Schenk Avenue for a more celebratory angle, including the ribbon-cutting.

During the church service, Pastor David K. Brawley of St. Paul; Father Edward Mason, pastor of Our Lady of the Presentation/Mercy; and other leaders called on the mayor to take care of the hometown that elected him. They pointed out de Blasio has traveled frequently this year.

Mason said from the podium, “Mayor de Blasio, please come forward.”

Neither the mayor nor anyone representing him was in attendance.

After laughter calmed down, Mason told the crowd, “He needs to return home and work with us to put up hundreds of Redwoods in Bushwick, Bedford-Stuyvesant, the Lower East Side, Harlem, the South Bronx — all over our city!”

Addressing his remarks to the absent mayor, Mason continued, “You know as well as we — you told us about the under-utilized NYCHA land and parking lots. Let’s set it aside for affordable housing for our seniors and not luxury condos!”

“Let’s start building them right now, Mr. Mayor. Come home. Comply with the federal court order to remove the mold in NYCHA buildings. Join with us to do what we’ve been doing for over 35 years. What others say can’t be done, we do. They say no, we say yes. Where they see destruction, we see hope and we build.”

The leaders called on de Blasio to release city funds and authorize the immediate repairs of NYCHA apartments, saying that New Yorkers have waited long enough for urgent repairs — including of leaks and flooding — to their homes.

Following the rally at the ribbon cutting, EBC leaders spoke about the building, which they said promises to be an incredible asset to the neighborhood.

Redwood Senior Living provides 80 ultra-affordable apartments to area seniors, including at least 20 current tenants from NYCHA. No resident will pay more than 30 percent of their income. The seven-story elevator building, which was built on a former NYCHA parking lot, has a community room with an apartment-style kitchen for recreation and social programs, as well as offices for social services for the residents. Additional amenities include a library/computer room and fitness room inside and a landscaped seating area and raised garden beds outside.

“Redwood trees are the true giants of the forest. Like our neighborhood’s seniors, redwoods get their strength from their roots, which can extend up to 100 feet and fuse with other roots,” said Brawley. “East Brooklyn Congregations and many of today’s seniors started rebuilding our neighborhoods 35 years ago with more than 4,000 Nehemiah homes and 1,200 apartments. Redwood Senior Living continues the regeneration — not gentrification — of our community.”

East Brooklyn Congregations and Metro Industrial Areas Foundation are part of the nation’s oldest and largest coalition of multi-faith organizations. In New York and New Jersey, 118 churches, synagogues, mosques, schools, homeowners associations and senior centers belong to Metro IAF.