On September 20th, New Destiny, BFC Partners and SMJ Development along with well-wishers and partners celebrated the official opening of The Kira in Jamaica, Queens. The affordable/supportive residence provides homes to 139 households including 69 units for families coming from NYC domestic violence shelters. Onsite services funded by the Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance (OTDA) through the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative are provided by New Destiny.
New Destiny Executive Director Nicole Branca emcee’d the event and brought up Board Chair Nora Levinson who noted that The Kira was the organization’s ninth supportive residence but its first in Queens.
BFC Partners’ Don Capoccia and Brandon Baron spoke about the way in which COVID benefitted the development of the 21-story building: the shutdown prioritized affordable housing construction and stopped luxury development, so The Kira went up, as one speaker noted, ‘amazingly fast…for New York.”
Juan Barahona · Principal of SMJ Development went next, recounting seeing the property for the first time and knowing ‘this is it!’.
OTDA Commissioner Dan Tietz followed, having been introduced as a longtime advocate on behalf of vulnerable people – at the city, running a nonprofit and now at the state. He pointed out how important OTDA considers supportive housing to be in addressing homelessness. “New York recognizes that the causes of homelessness are complex and the solutions need to be comprehensive.”
Thehbia Hiwot, NYS HCR Senior Vice President of Multifamily Finance, followed, stating simply: “This residence will be life changing for the families who live here. You have built a community within a community.”
Katelyn Meehan, Vice President, Relationship Manager, Wells Fargo Bank congratulated the team on the beautiful new residence and the contribution the building would make to the community.
Cecile Noel, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office to End Domestic and Gender Based Violence noted that domestic violence is a leading cause of homelessness and emphasized New Destiny’s seminal role in addressing the housing needs of survivors. She was especially impressed by The Kira’s focus on meeting the needs of children impacted by domestic violence. The Kira is named for a child who died as a result of domestic violence.
Senator Leroy Comrie spoke very briefly: “I really just came to applaud all of you.”
Also speaking was a survivor who moved in with her young son: “Permanent housing was stability for me And my baby boy has made new friends and tried cool things. “
Also speaking were representatives from Senator Gillibrand, and the Queens Borough President.
The Kira was funded by NYS HCR and used 4% Low Income Housing Tax Credits. The architect was GF55 and the contractor Jamaica Builders LLC.