Hochul Announces Groundbreaking Of 56-Unit Senior Housing Development In Whites Plains


Mt. Hope Plaza to Offer Healthy and Safe Affordable Homes for Older New Yorkers

Development Result of Faith-Based Partnership to Develop Housing on Church-Owned Property 

Governor Kathy Hochul announced that construction has begun on a $40 Million affordable housing development for seniors in White Plains. Mt. Hope Plaza will include 56 affordable apartments, including 20 for those in need of supportive services. The development is the result of a partnership with the Mt. Hope African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church and Community Housing Innovations to construct affordable housing on an underutilized parcel formerly owned by the church. 

Dr. Gregory Robeson Smith, Senior Pastor of Mt. Hope A.M.E Zion Church says, “Our seniors are the crown jewels of the community with the greatest need for affordable adequate living accommodations. Unfortunately, they are most forgotten. Our mission is without question, to minimize and/or eliminate this atrocious situation.  The Mt. Hope Plaza design will provide a comfortable living space during their maturing golden years.” 

The six-story building is being constructed at 65 Lake Street on a parcel adjacent to Mt. Hope A.M.E Zion Church. The development will include a structured parking garage with 72 spaces, of which 47 will be shared with the church. All 56 apartments are for adults aged 62 and older earning at or below 60 percent of the Area Median Income. 

There will be 20 units for seniors experiencing homelessness supported by services and operating funding under the Empire State Supportive Housing Initiative administered by the New York State Office of Mental Health. The supportive service provider is Community Housing Innovations. 

Mt. Hope Plaza will participate in the New York State Energy Research and Development Authority’s New Construction – Housing Program and EPA ENERGY STAR Multifamily New Construction v1.1 Certification as well as Enterprise Green Communities 2015 Criteria. The building is designed to be all-electric and solar-ready.

Residential amenities will include a green roof, a community room, central laundry room, and free internet to the residents with at least one wired connection in the living room.

The groundbreaking took place on Friday April12.  Leading the delegation for participates was Bishop Dennis Vernon Proctor, Presiding Bishop of the New York. Annual Conference, along with many political land civic dignitaries. Including

Hon Tom Roach, Mayor City of White Plains, Hon George Latimer Westchester County Executive, Hon Andrea Steward-Cousins, Majority Leader New York State Senate, Hon Vadat Gashi, Chair Westchester County Board of Legislatures, Hon Shelly Meyer New York State Senator, and New York State Assemblyman Chris Burdick.

Mount Hope,197 years old is the oldest African American congregation in Westchester County New York.  Its dates back to 1827, when the Quakers of Purchase, New York liberated the slaves and settled them on the rugged highlands in the Silver Lake section of White Plains, New York.  This section was then referred to as “Nigger Hill”, because it was the underground slave station and was located north of Horton’s Pond.

Mt Hope is part of the African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church, its growth and development, is one of the extraordinary stories of American history.  In 1796, a handful of Black men, free and enslaved, along with James L. Varick, walked out of the John Street Methodist Episcopal Churchto establish a separate Black church called Zion.

Throughout history, many of Zion’s early churches had schools attached.  Zion’s commitment to Education continues today.  Slaves, who escaped north to freedom, knew they could find refuge and assistance at Zion Church; therefore, Zion became affectionately known as “Freedom’s Church.”  

Mount Hope and other Zion churches served as important stations along the Underground Railroad in New York State guided by Harriet Tubman and other illustrious members who were leaders in our historic fight for freedom.  They include Frederick Douglass, Sojourner Truth; Paul Robeson, Madame C.J. Walker and many others who fought so valiantly to free African Americans, socially, politically, and spiritually.

Today, Zion has grown into a worldwide denomination of over 1,250,000 people, whose members continue to adhere to the principles of justice, equality, and freedom upon which the great Church of Zion was founded and has prospered.

AJ Woodson
AJ Woodson
AJ Woodson is the Editor-In-Chief and co-owner of Black Westchester, Host & Producer of the People Before Politics Radio Show, An Author, Journalism Fellow (Craig Newmark Graduate School of Journalism), Rap Artist - one third of the legendary underground rap group JVC FORCE known for the single Strong Island, Radio Personality, Hip-Hop Historian, Documentarian, Activist, Criminal Justice Advocate and Freelance Journalist whose byline has appeared in several print publications and online sites including The Source, Vibe, the Village Voice, Upscale, Sonicnet.com, Launch.com, Rolling Out Newspaper, Daily Challenge Newspaper, Spiritual Minded Magazine, Word Up! Magazine, On The Go Magazine and several others.

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