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Seniors applaud Mayor de Blasio’s affordable housing plan at rally

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ASTORIA, Queens— Helene Gwenn, 79, of Astoria says she's a prisoner in her own home. It's a fifth floor walk up on 30th Road that she has lived in for close to 40 years.

Helene, who has a heart condition and has trouble walking up five flights more than once a day, has been on a waiting list for senior affordable housing with an elevator for two years.

She is is one of 20,000 seniors in Western Queens waiting to get into affordable senior housing, said to be tougher to get into than Harvard.

"I limit myself to one excursion a day," Gwenn told PIX11. "My doctor would prefer I don't live in a walk up," she said.

Helene's city Councilmember Costa Constantides just voted  in favor of Mayor de Blasio's zoning proposals because of the need for more senior housing in his district. The district includes Astoria, Jackson Heights, Woodside and Elmhurst.

"They are our mothers, grandmothers, fathers and brothers and they really need this housing," Costa Constantinides, the City Council Member from that section of Queens told PIX11.

The mayor's plan calls for a sweeping overhaul of the city's housing policy giving incentives to developers to include some affordable housing for seniors and low-income families in all projects that need city approval.

Right now, more than 200,000 older New Yorkers across the city are on waiting lists for affordable housing. The wait time is seven years.

Maria Pedemonte's brother has been in the waiting list for five years.

"He's been waiting and he really wants to live in Astoria," Maria Pedemonte told PIX11.