Bishop Philius and Helene Nicolas (BPHN) Senior Residence at the corner of New York Ave and Farragut Road is the latest affordable housing project for seniors completed in Brooklyn. The seven-story building brings 89 much-needed units to East Flatbush.
Evangelical Crusade of Fishers of Men church members joined residents and local and city elected officials to celebrate the new development following the Sunday service. The celebration started with a prayer, followed by the singing of the Haitian and American National Anthems.
“I want everyone here to know what this building represents for our community. It represents 50 years of working as home attenders, 50 years working as cab drivers,” said Rev. Samuel Nicolas, son of Bishop Philius Nicolas and the Senior Pastor of the Evangelical Crusade of Fishers of Men church.
“Fifty years of being told it’s not our turn. Fifty years of being told that we sound different, we look different, but ‘you do not speak English enough’. Fifty years of struggling. To my fellow Haitians, let’s use this building as an example of what we can continue to do in this country and in our Homeland.”
The building at 1488 New York Ave. was designed by Heritage Architecture and Rodney Leon Architects, built by Brisa Builders, and cost $45 million. Additional funding for the housing came from the Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and current Public Advocate Jumaane Williams, who represented the area in City Council.
“This is exciting. When I was a council member, I was able to provide some public funding for this project and it’s just great to see it come to fruition,” Williams told Bklyner. He said that during the pandemic and “with the social issue going on” in the country, this was something the community needed. “This is what we need more of,” he added.
The building has on-site social services for the seniors, and one community center has been finished, while another community center is in the works to be managed by Evangelical Crusade Christian Church.
“We all know housing is a right so this is the opportunity for us to get it right,” councilwoman Farah Louis who represents District 45 told Bklyner. “This is a way for us as a community to make sure that we are working collectively to provide housing in our community.”
Bishop Philius Nicolas, in whose name the residence was dedicated thanked his wife and the community for helping build affordable housing.
“I am thankful personally to my wife Helene. Due to sickness, she can not be here. She was the one to stand with me through my struggle,” he said.
Of the development’s 89 units, half are reserved for homeless seniors, and all applications were managed through Housing Connect. Last Friday, April 16, two formerly homeless elders were among the first to move into the new building.
Mayor Bill de Blasio, Congresswoman Yvette Clarke, Senator Kevin Parker, and Assemblymember Rodneyse Bichotte Hermelyn were also present during the celebration. They all spoke and said the new housing illustrates what one can accomplish in the United States and thanked the leaders of the Evangelical Crusaders for their hard work.
After the celebration members of the Haitian American Law Enforcement Fraternal Organization (HALEFO) lead a dance.