Organization Name: Selfhelp Community Services, Inc.
Project Title: Van Cortlandt Green, Affordable Senior Residence
Project Location: Riverdale, the Bronx
Van Cortlandt Green (VCG) is Selfhelp Community Services, Inc.’s tenth affordable senior residence and its first in the Bronx. The goal of VCG, and all of Selfhelp’s affordable housing projects, is to help seniors to age in place with independence and dignity, and remain in their homes and communities—avoiding institutionalization—for as long as possible. Older New Yorkers are the fastest growing demographic in New York City. However, the City’s capacity to accommodate them in appropriate housing is severely limited. About 1 in 5 older New Yorkers lives in poverty, with many on a fixed income. The need for the bricks and mortar housing is met with an equal need for knowledgeable service providers to work with low-income seniors to ensure community engagement and integration. Not only was VCG to increase the supply of senior housing, but it was to foster an environment where residents live independently, enabled in part by available services and ease of access to the community.
VCG is a new affordable apartment building built specifically for low- income seniors, located in the Riverdale section of the Bronx. The 11-story building opened to its first residents in June 2016. VCG is comprised of 85 studio apartments for seniors aged 62 and older, with incomes at or below 60% AMI. There is also one resident manager’s unit. Fronting on Van Cortlandt Park, each apartment and common space has a view of the park. The building also features a community room for the exclusive use of residents on the 11th floor, with access to the adjacent rooftop terrace, a computer lab and a skype room. There is also a two-floor, 3,300 sf community facility space that is part of the building. VCG, built on a former brownfield redevelopment site, is filing for a LEED Silver rating. The development is a joint venture between Selfhelp Community Services, Inc., Urban Builders Collaborative and Broadway Mosholu LLC.
In providing both a physical home as well as comprehensive health and wellness services, by request, VCG helps its residents to age independently and with dignity. Units are designed to be handicap adaptable, with acces- sible bathrooms and kitchens that can easily be adapted for wheelchairs. Health and wellness services include access to case management and sup- portive counseling, as well as home health care and chore/housekeeping services and client-centered technologies. On-site social workers meet with residents in a dedicated office, while a community room accommodates programming for a variety of events. Access to transportation supports integration with the surrounding community. The building is also close to shops, restaurants and services, as well as a large supermarket, and there are 5 medical facilities within a 3-mile radius. In addition, social services staff have relationships with hospitals to aid residents transitioning back into the community after a hospital discharge.
Selfhelp Community Services, Inc., is an 80-year-old non-sectarian, non- profit, 501(c)(3) serving over 20,000 elderly and poor New Yorkers each year through a range of home and community-based programs. Selfhelp’s mission is to maintain the independence and dignity of seniors and at-risk populations through a spectrum of housing, home health care and social services. Selfhelp is a leader in applying new methods and technologies to address the changing needs of its community, and it continues to serve as the “last surviving relative” to its historic constituency, victims of Nazi persecution. Selfhelp upholds its mission by providing services through 26 sites in New York City and Nassau County. These include affordable senior residences; client centered technologies; Naturally Occurring Retirement Community programs; senior centers; home health care; case management programs; Selfhelp Alzheimer’s Resource Program; guardianship programs; Selfhelp Senior Source and Care Transitions.