New York, NY - Today, NYCHA leadership joined representatives from East New York Restoration Local Development Corporation (ENYRLDC), the Department for the Aging (DFTA), Maimonides Medical Center/ Community Care of Brooklyn, Assembly Member Charles Barron, and New York City Councilwoman Inez Barron to celebrate the opening of a Fitness Hub targeted towards seniors at Pink Houses. The outdoor area features a running track, stretching space, and several pieces of fitness equipment designed to specifically activate the exercise needs of seniors at the Pink Houses campus in the East New York section of Brooklyn.
“Developing open spaces capable of improving the health outcomes of older adults living in public housing helps to ensure that they are able to age in place, and continue to be a stabilizing force in their community,” said NYCHA Chair & CEO Greg Russ. “This project is a testament to the passion and commitment of the Pink Houses Resident Association – who worked with the many partners represented here today to make this happen.”
“Fitness helps maintain physical and mental health, and it also builds stronger communities,” said Health Commissioner Dr. Dave A. Chokshi. “When communities come together in meaningful ways, neighborhoods become healthier.”
“This Fitness Hub is an important resource for our older adult community as it provides them with a dedicated space to exercise, enjoy the outdoors, stay connected with neighbors, and maintain a healthy lifestyle,” said DFTA Commissioner Lorraine Cortés-Vázquez. “Communal outdoor spaces like this enhance the quality of life for older adults and help provide the community care they need to age in their homes and communities. We are proud to support this project. It is a great example of our residents, community-based partners and elected officials coming together to make New York an age-inclusive City.”
“Our seniors were interested in a range of innovative fitness equipment capable of serving residents with wide-ranging exercise needs and mobility levels,” said Pink Houses Resident Association President Karen Caldwell. "The Senior Fitness Hub fits all the needs we outlined and is a testament to what is possible when resident priorities and ideas are fully supported."
“The value of having a dedicated space for seniors to exercise while maintaining social connections became even more pronounced during the pandemic, said Colette Pean, Executive Director of the East New York Restoration Local Development Corporation. "We were committed to delivering a high-quality fitness space that residents of all generations could take advantage of, and we are excited to see the Hub become a community fixture.”
In 2018, the Residents Association at Pink Houses expressed interest in repurposing an underutilized playground as a space where senior residents could enjoy regular physical activity, wellness classes, and build connection with their neighbors. The group reached out to ENYLDC, - a local nonprofit that hosts the Annual East Brooklyn 5K Run/Walk - to help gather funding and design support for the public space. A total of 15 percent – or 530 – of the 3,569 residents at Pink Houses are residents who are aged 62 and older.
The Resident Association worked with ENYLDC to canvass for funding to support the renovation of the public space. New York City Councilwoman Inez Barron worked to release $120,000 in discretionary funding that was allocated through DFTA. Maimonides Medical Center, which brought together hundreds of provider organizations and thousands of physicians to establish Community Care of Brooklyn (CCB), pledged $76,700. Assembly Member Charles Barron and Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams also contributed funds to the Fitness Hub.
The design of the Fitness Hub was a collaborative process led by ENYRLDC that unfolded though several engagement sessions where residents were able to weigh-in on the design innovations they wanted to see. Residents wanted to see more opportunities for older residents to maintain an active lifestyle and ENYRLDC was familiar with another NYCHA example, a Fitness Zone created at Carver Houses in partnership with the Trust for Public Land. The nonprofit collective Open Architecture Collaborative of New York, who pledged $9,500 in Pro Bono design services to the project. Two MWBE firms oversaw the spatial layout and construction of the space: Equest Builders Corp. and Studio 397.
The Fitness Hub is just the latest open space activation informed by Connected Communities an urban planning initiative developed by NYCHA to repurpose underutilized areas in to public-facing amenities and integrate them in to the surrounding community. One of the guiding principles of Connected Communities is designing safe, clean, open, and accessible spaces that encourage physical activity and social connection. If you are interested in supporting a Connected Communities project, you can email email@example.com.
The New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), the largest public housing authority in North America, was created in 1935 to provide decent, affordable housing for low- and moderate-income New Yorkers. NYCHA is home to roughly 1 in 15 New Yorkers across over 177,000 apartments within 335 housing developments. NYCHA serves over 350,000 residents through the conventional public housing program (Section 9), over 20,000 residents at developments that have been converted to PACT/RAD, and over 75,000 families through federal rent subsidies (the Section 8 Leased Housing Program). In addition, NYCHA connects residents to opportunities in financial empowerment, business development, career advancement, and educational programs. With a housing stock that spans all five boroughs, NYCHA is a city a within a city.