Ribbon-Cutting Ceremony for HANAC’s Newest Building (Vid)

Left to right: Fr. Nicholas Anctil, Paola Duran, Amelia Visnauskas, Nikitas Drakotos, Evangeline Douris, and Stacy Bliagos at the ribbon cutting ceremony for the newest HANAC senior residence. (Photo: TNH/ Kostas Bej)

CORONA, NY – HANAC’s newest residential complex offering affordable housing for the elderly was inaugurated at 54-17 101st Street in Corona, Queens on May 29. This is the fifth affordable housing project by the historic and particularly active Greek-American organization, founded by George Douris as the Hellenic American Neighborhood Action Committee.

U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez and Queens Borough President Melinda Katz were among those present as the HANAC executives presented the premises of the new eco-friendly, energy-saving building, the first affordable senior housing development in the United States to meet the Passive House Institute design standards.

HANAC’s new residential complex had a construction budget of $36 million, of which $14 million were drawn from New York City funds and one million from Attorney General Eric Schneiderman settlement money. The remainder was financed by private funds.

Speaking to The National Herald, HANAC President Evangeline Douris, welcomed the new building complex and the relief it offers to the elderly living in its apartments. She said, “I am very proud and very pleased that we have arrived at the completion of the building, the construction of which took us two years. It is a building complex that is of great importance to us. The elderly who live here will have access to social services on site, while a pre-K operates on the ground floor. We believe that the elderly, because they love children very much, will be very happy with the operation of the pre-K.”

As noted by HANAC Executive Director Stacy Bliagos, the new unit is an eight-storey building with 67 apartments, of which 21 were allocated to formerly homeless elderly people. She also mentioned the residential building’s wider significance to the City of New York.

Bliagos said, “It’s the 5th HANAC building that includes affordable homes for seniors, and it’s our first in the Corona Gardens. We should point out that it is one of the largest buildings in America that has the Passive House certification. I also want to point out that we have seen important people here today, which demonstrates the importance of the project for our city. We should be proud because HANAC is a Greek-American organization that started in its first steps by addressing the Greek community, but then turned to our community as a whole.”

For her part, Rep. Ocasio-Cortez noted the social and ecological importance of the complex due to its construction. She also pointed out that members of a community can benefit from development and building projects in their neighborhood without worrying about gentrification forcing them out of their homes.

U.S. Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez spoke about the positive aspects of development working with and for the community. Photo: TNH/ Kostas Bej

“A lot of people think community advocacy and when people talk about anti-gentrification, it means don’t build anything and don’t develop anything, but really what it means is any development that happens in our community needs to be done with us and for us,” Ocasio-Cortez said.

Queens Borough President Melinda Katz spoke of a case in which “governance has worked flawlessly.”

Architect Brian Dobrolsky from Think-Arc also spoke to TNH and expressed his satisfaction with the fact that the construction was completed with the Passive House design philosophy. In fact, he noted that the additional cost to the budget did not exceed eight percent.

The event was co-ordinated by HANAC Director of Housing & Community Development Paola Duran.

(Photo: TNH/ Kostas Bej)

(Photo: TNH/ Kostas Bej)
The exterior of HANAC’s newest senior residence. Photo: TNH/ Kostas Bej
Elected officials, community members, and the media were present for the ribbon-cutting ceremony at HANAC’s newest senior residence. Photo: TNH/ Kostas Bej
The entrance to the newest HANAC senior residence at Corona Gardens. Photo: TNH/ Kostas Bej