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Mayor de Blasio, Cardinal Dolan break ground for Bronx senior housing

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks

New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio speaks during an event on Nov. 10, 2014 in Brooklyn. Credit: Getty Images / Ilya S. Savenok

Mayor Bill de Blasio and Cardinal Timothy Dolan broke ground Thursday on a Bronx senior housing complex that will provide 61 apartments for low-income residents toward the administration's goal to build or preserve 200,000 affordable units over the decade.

The Archdiocese of New York is managing the development of the ArtsBridge project in the Bronx's Highbridge neighborhood, but the construction is financed by the city, state and federal governments.

Speaking at a news conference at the construction site at Plimpton Avenue and West 172nd Street, Dolan said the struggle to find housing is a theme in the Christmas story.

"Do you remember when Mary and Joseph were in Bethlehem and they were looking for housing?" he asked, noting that the holiday is two weeks away. "They were looking for a place where their baby would be born, and there was no housing. . . . That, I reckon, is why Jesus was so sensitive about the homeless."

The seven-story building is slated to be completed in 2016. Seniors seeking to live there must earn no more than $29,000 annually.

"This is not about buildings," de Blasio said. "This is about people. This is about families. This is about giving people a decent life."

Funding includes $3 million dedicated by Bronx Borough President Ruben Diaz Jr.'s office and administered through the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development's senior housing new construction program, along with $13.65 million in tax-exempt bond financing through the New York State Homes and Community Renewal program.

De Blasio administration officials said they expect to have financing and permits secured for 16,000 affordable housing units by the end of the year.

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