Press | April 1, 2013

Serving Medicaid Recipients

Affordable Housing News


Mutually beneficial partnerships are a staple of the affordable housing development industry and have created some of the most successful projects on the market today. Shared efforts, such as the recent undertaking by The Housing Collaborative, a for profit developer, and the nonprofit Volunteers of America – Greater New York, Inc., are making for strong developments that benefit the end user in multiple ways.


“The $25 million Creston Avenue Residence is the first project in New York City to utilize funding through the Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) supportive housing initiative,” says Paul Kress, Assistant Vice President of Volunteers of America – Greater New York. MRT is a new initiative under the administration of Governor Andrew Cuomo. The goal is to achieve significant savings to the Medicaid program while at the same time make improvements in the quality of services to targeted high cost Medicaid populations by providing them with permanent supportive housing options in the communities where they live. The Creston Avenue Residence, set to open in the Fordham section of the Bronx in 2014, will provide 45 permanent supportive housing units to special needs populations identified through the NY NY III program, including homeless veterans, and 20 units for individuals and families with household incomes at or below 60 percent of the Area median income.


The result of expert input from both sides, employing the design, development and construction models from for-profit and nonprofit perspectives. The structured approaches of both organizations made this development the perfect testing ground for an innovative Medicaid Redesign Team affordable housing initiative.


Birth of a Partnership
“Within Volunteers of America one of the driving forces behind this joint venture collaboration was Richard Motta, the President and CEO of Volunteers of America-Greater New York,” Kress says. “Richard is a savvy developer in his own right and during his tenure at VOA he has completed many other development projects in New York City and in northern New Jersey.”


“Robert Sanborn, one of the partners of The Housing Collaborative, served as the lead project manager, and was joined by a professional Design/Development Team led by Joseph Auld, President of Ballington Project Management Services, LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Volunteers of America,” says Kress.


Combining knowledge and pooling resources from both organizations was only the first step in a series of strategic moves made by Volunteers of America and The Housing Collaborative to ensure that the Creston Avenue Residence would become a reality. The real success of this joint venture development was largely contingent on bringing together the necessary local, state and federal funding sources. In addition to the MRT funds the Creston Avenue development project received funding support through the New York State Office of Mental Health, New  York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance – Homeless Housing Assistance Program, New York State Housing Finance Agency, New York State Energy Research and Development Authority, the Federal Home Loan Bank – Affordable Housing Program, and the New York City Housing Acquisition Fund. Other critical partners in this venture were the Corporation for Supportive Housing, J. P. Morgan Chase Bank, and Red Stone Equity Partners.


Focusing on the End User
To create livable space that’s efficient and affordable, the Creston Avenue Residence design/development team sought sustainability in every sense of the word. “This project is a good example of affordable housing done right,” Kress says. “Upon completion, the building will feature numerous green initiatives,” stated Fernando Villa, project architect and chief designer at Magnusson Architecture and Planning of New York City. “In addition,” according to Villa, “the building will support a 50 KVH Photovoltaic System at the main roof, greenroofs on the 8th and 9th Floor’s setbacks, a rainwater harvesting system for irrigation of the landscaped areas, generous fenestration to maximize daylight within the corridors and building envelope, a high-efficiency boiler on the roof, high efficiency PTAC units for cooling of the units, central air for common spaces, low-E thermally broken Energy Star windows, continuous exterior insulation (insulated cavity wall), low or no VOC paints, primers and caulks, water saver faucets and shower heads, CFL& LED lamps throughout, and Kone Ecospec elevators. Villa noted Creston Avenue Residence, when complete, will establish a new benchmark with regard to affordable, green design.”


“Steven Winter, a very well-known energy consultant who does a lot for green buildings for affordable housing, helped us with the whole process,” says Joseph Auld, Project Manager. “He helped us get through the LEED process, for which we are currently awaiting approval. They also included other amenities in their development that go beyond physical sustainability. “One of the great things about this development is its on-site programs and services. A portion of the building is actually dedicated to having professional staff offices and meeting rooms on-site,” says Auld. “The backyard is also designed to be a healthy environment for people and is the centerpiece of the development. Inside, multipurpose rooms for events and activities offer ample common space and other resident amenities.”


Celebrating Collaboration
By creating a safe, comfortable living space for individuals who seek continual treatment and require a network of support for physical and mental health related issues, Volunteers of America and The Housing Collaborative has  created a supportive housing model that meets a real need in our community and provides a safe and comfortable home for residents that will foster a sense of belonging and enable these individuals to live, work, learn and participate fully in their community.


“We’re absolutely going to be looking to form other partnerships like Creston Avenue for future supportive housing projects. In fact, we already have several new joint venture projects in our development pipeline,” Kress says.


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