An Independent Life of Flowers and Bible Verses in the Bronx

Molly Mungroo is not a homebody.

“I’m not going to stay in this house and watch these four walls,” she said. “I’m not going to say, ‘I’m old, I don’t go anywhere.’ I don’t do that. I’m independent.”

Between volunteering at a food pantry, going to church and regular walks in her neighborhood, Ms. Mungroo, 71, loves to go out and stay active.

But when she’s in, her apartment — located in the Bronx neighborhood of Mount Hope — is her sanctuary.

“Everything is big. I love it. It’s beautiful,” she said. “I set it up, I cleaned it up nice.”

Ms. Mungroo pays $179 a month for a one-bedroom apartment subsidized by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, through a program designed to provide affordable apartments with social services for senior residents with low incomes. Residents pay 30 percent of their income for rent, with HUD covering the rest.

To qualify under the program, at least one member of a household must be 62 or older, and the total household income must be under 50 percent of area median income, which in New York City is about $70,000 for a family of three (about $54,000 for one person). Applicants apply to individual buildings and may sit on a wait list, sometimes for years, before securing housing.

Ms. Mungroo always keeps fresh flowers on her table in the area she refers to as her prayer corner.Credit…Katherine Marks for The New York Times
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