The site of a former church in New York City has been transformed into affordable housing units, and the Archdiocese of New York plans to develop 2,000 affordable units from its building stock over the next decade.

The St. Augustine Terrace, located in the Bronx, was formally opened on Monday, and was blessed by Cardinal Timothy Dolan. The new low-income housing development is administered by Catholic Homes New York, part of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York.

At the April 8 opening ceremony, Dolan, along with Monsignor Kevin Sullivan, executive director of Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, announced that St. Augustine Terrace will be the first of many new developments opened as part of a new affordable housing initiative.

St. Augustine Terrace contains 112 units of affordable housing, including 77 units for families. The other 35 studio units have been designated for people with chronic mental illness. Residents will receive on-site services from Catholic Charities’ Beacon of Hope House, which provides programming for people with mental illnesses.

Although the Archdiocese of New York owns the land of the building and services are administered by Catholic Charities NY, residents are not required to be of any particular faith.

Family units are reserved for people earning 60% or less of the area’s median income.

“As a City and State-funded project, the family units are marketed through the NYC Housing Connect website,” Paul Costiglio, director of communications at Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, told CNA.

Eligible residents will be selected for housing via a lottery system, Costigliano explained.

There is a pressing need for additional affordable housing units in New York City, with approximately 700 people currently applying for each available affordable unit. In 2017, about 60,000 New Yorkers were living in homeless shelters, even as the state’s unemployment rate dropped during that time.

Speaking at the opening, Monsignor Sullivan said the St. Augustine Terrace is just the latest instance of the Catholic Church assisting the less fortunate.

“When the war on poverty began some 50 years ago, the Catholic Church enlisted very strongly in being the voice for the poor, yes, but being an actor on behalf of the poor. It began more or less around that time of the creation of affordable housing in so many different parts of New York City,” said Sullivan.

Ground broke on the project in 2015. The land was formerly home to St. Augustine Parish, which consolidated with another parish in 2010. St. Augustine’s original church bell is present at the site of the new apartment building.

Additional units are being developed throughout the Archdiocese, with five locations already slated for new apartment buildings in the next decade. Four are located in the Bronx, and one is in Manhattan.