CROWN HEIGHTS — A neighborhood church and dozens of residents are moving into new homes this month with the official opening of Utica Place, an affordable housing complex at Lincoln Place and Utica Avenue.
The 12-story building's 87 residential units will all house low-income tenants who make about $18,000 to $50,000 per year, project developer L+M Development Partners said. About a third of the units are set aside for veterans making less than $23,500 a year, and eight of those units are for homeless veterans in particular.
Developers held an official ribbon-cutting ceremony for the building Monday, but the first 15 residents and a local Catholic church have already begun settling into the complex in the last couple of weeks, a spokeswoman for L+M said. As part of the deal for the project, L+M agreed to create space for St. Matthew Roman Catholic Church, located directly south of Utica Place, which owned the three run-down buildings that were demolished to make way for the complex, L+M said.
Now, St. Matthew has 7,000 square feet of community space at Utica Place to hold events, classes and meetings — something the church desperately needed, said parish leader Father Francis Black.
“We were so constrained,” he said at Monday's ribbon-cutting ceremony. “You’d walk into the rectory and there’d be people in the dining room, people in the one meeting room we had there, people would be sitting in the waiting room having meetings. It was just very uncomfortable for everybody.”
In addition to the church, Utica Place will include on-site support services for the veterans who live in the building. Jericho Project, a nonprofit that works on veteran housing issues, will oversee a full-time staff member who will work at the complex, offering counseling, case management and referrals for career services to tenants who served in the military.
“A lot of veterans are unemployed or underemployed and, obviously, if they’re living here, they’re considered low-income, so we’d like to look at increasing their income through employment or better employment,” said Tori Lyon, Jericho’s executive director.
Though the majority of space at Utica Place is residential, the project also includes an adjacent four-story, 38,000-square-foot commercial building currently occupied by Blink Fitness, shopping center Deals and a nursery school, Brooklyn Kids Academy.
A lottery conducted by the Department of Housing Preservation and Development for residential units at Utica Place closed on May 13 of this year, L+M said. The project received more than 38,000 applications. L+M expects all residents of Utica Place should be moved into the building by the end of the year.