CROWN HEIGHTS — Funding for more than 3,000 units of housing, a new ambulatory care network and a slew of programs to fight poverty are in the works for Central Brooklyn, according to a health-focused initiative outlined by the governor Thursday.
The $1.4 billion “Vital Brooklyn” effort aims to fight “entrenched pockets of poverty” in the area, Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Thursday, earmarking money for affordable housing, better access to healthcare and more farmers markets, anti-violence programming and recreation space in parts of Crown Heights, Bedford-Stuyvesant, East Flatbush, Brownsville and East New York.
“What is the area in this state that has the greatest social need? If you look at unemployment rates, food stamps, physical inactivity, number of murders, one of the greatest areas of need in the entire state is Central Brooklyn. And it’s not even close,” the governor said at the announcement at Medgar Evers College.
To help improve those benchmarks, Cuomo hopes to pour $1.4 billion into the community, the largest chunk of which — a $700 million capital investment — will be used for “community-based health care,” including a 36-site ambulatory care network.
An additional $563 million, half of the total expected cost of “Vital Brooklyn,” will go toward building more than 3,000 units of housing on six state-owned sites in the area. The precise locations of the new housing, as well as the 36 ambulatory care sites, were not revealed at Thursday’s announcement; an inquiry to the governor’s office was not returned.
The plan, which builds on topics mentioned in Cuomo's State of the State address, is not yet finalized, however. The funding proposed for “Vital Brooklyn” needs approval from the legislature before it can move forward, and Cuomo directed the state representatives at Thursday’s announcement to “be ready for war” in Albany over the proposal.
“Billion with a ‘B’ is a lot of money, even on the state level, and the state budget is going to have to pass on April 1 if this is going to happen,” he said.
Karim Camara, a former Crown Heights assemblyman now working in the Cuomo administration, said the proposed housing would include units for the developmentally disabled, seniors and the formerly incarcerated, and stressed that the community would be involved in its planning.
“We will be looking for your input to shape this plan,” he told the packed auditorium at the announcement.
Other funding in the “Vital Brooklyn” budget proposal includes $140 million to create more recreation space and improve existing parks in Central Brooklyn, $23 million for “resiliency” or storm preparedness measures and $1.2 million for youth development, including education programs with the state’s Department of Environmental Conservation.
For more details on the program or to watch Thursday’s announcement, visit the governor’s website.