Written by Jill Nossa Saturday, 23 March 2013 00:00The notion of “affordable housing” is getting a makeover in Nassau County, one that will benefit everyone from working families to seniors living on fixed income.
“There is just such a demand for affordable housing,” says Patti Bourne, executive vice president of planning for the Kimmel Housing Development Foundation and a Glen Cove resident.
The Kimmel Housing Development Foundation, a Long Island-based nonprofit developer/owner of affordable residences, has formed a partnership with Selfhelp Community Services, one of the New York City area’s largest providers of housing, home care and social services for seniors, to expand access to quality housing and services in underserved areas.
Bourne stresses that, unlike the negative connotations often associated with the term “affordable housing,” the Kimmel Foundation’s goal is to have “normal middle class people have a good life, and not spend all of their income on housing.”
Kimmel Foundation owns two developments in Westbury, Apex 1 and Apex 2, both of which have gotten a positive response and have waiting lists for tenants. Apex 1, opened in 2003, is for seniors, and Apex 2, opened in 2009, houses families.
Because Nassau County is well-known as the most expensive suburb in the United States, these developments aim to keep people near their families and communities, rather than forcing them to move to cheaper cities or states.
Bourne said the goal is to provide rental properties to Nassau County residents, and the challenge is finding areas that are affordable.
Currently, they are still in the exploratory phase, while they have secured a property, the exact town where the next development will be cannot be revealed yet.
Ron Roel, who also lives in Glen Cove and sits on the board of directors of the Kimmel Foundation, says the Kimmel Foundation felt that partnering with Selfhelp is beneficial because it provides an opportunity to expand on Long Island, and they have a strong record of providing services to the aging population.
The design is with seniors in mind, though unlike assisted living facilities, there is no common dining area. The purpose is to keep people living independently for as long as possible, and to bring special services, technologies and programs to residents, since one of the issues in suburbia is getting services for seniors.
One of the innovations to keep the units affordable is a shared apartment, connected by a common living space and kitchen (with a personal refrigerator); this type of unit meets the zoning standards while keeping rent low.
Roel says the intent is to put the developments in areas where there is already a certain amount of density, which fits into the smart growth movement. The idea is to also provide transportation to doctor appointments, and possibly even get doctors to make house calls.
The Kimmel Housing Development Foundation is an excellent match for us,” explains Stuart C. Kaplan, CEO of Selfhelp. “This venture allows us to extend our housing offerings for the first time beyond the New York City area.”
“We are delighted to have the opportunity to work with Selfhelp to address the critical need for affordable housing on Long Island and far beyond,” notes Howard Kimmel, founder and Chairman of the Kimmel Foundation. Both Roel and Bourne emphasize the importance of making the developments work within the community they come to; Roel says the developments will be modest in size and are not intended to change the character of the neighborhood, while Bourne notes the buildings are well-built, providing residents with “good decent housing with well-maintained properties and facilities.”
As to the partnership, Bourne says, “It broadens what we do. It’s not just a building, it’s a lifestyle.”