Creston Avenue Residence makes a strong connection between housing and health.

It is one of first developments in New York City to utilize state Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) supportive housing funds. The idea is to invest in supportive housing that will serve high-cost Medicaid users. By having stable housing and support, the residents will greatly reduce their Medicaid expenses.

Developed by Volunteers of America—Greater New York and Robert Sanborn Development, Creston Avenue features 66 apartments, including 21 MRT units for formerly homeless individuals with a mental illness, which have a service contract with the state Office of Mental Health. MRT funds covered a little more than 10% of the project’s $24.1 million development costs.

Although it is too early to know the project’s financial impact and health outcomes, Robert Sanborn says some studies indicate that supportive housing can save between $ 10,000 to $15,000 per participant per year as residents no longer require emergency rooms and other services.

In addition to the MRT units, Creston Avenue has 20 units with services funded by the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, eight Department of Housing and Urban Development-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing vouchers to serve veterans, and 17 affordable apartments to serve residents earning no more than 60% of the area median income.

The Bronx project also stands out for its design. The 10-story, LEED Platinum building is loaded with green features including photovoltaic panels that help power the building’s common areas. A TransitScreen in the lobby displays updates on the building’s energy consumption as well as real-time transit information.

“High design is not just for market-rate buildings. We wanted a building that stands up and can be compared to any market-rate building in the city,” says architect Fernando Villa, a principal at Magnusson Architecture and Planning, stressing that the green elements make sense for supportive housing, which need a healthy environment for its residents. Energy efficiency is also important in order to keep operating costs low in a supportive housing development.

With its large windows, Villa’s design seeks to maximize daylight in the building. At night, Creston Avenue brings light to a formerly dark street and adds eyes on the street for added security.

Financing for the development included tax-exempt bonds and federal and state low-income housing tax credit equity from Red Stone Equity Partners.

Project Details

Developers: Volunteers of America—Greater New York and Robert Sanborn Development
Architect: Magnusson Architecture and Planning
Major Funders: Red Stone Equity Partners; JPMorgan Chase; New York State Homes and Community Renewal; New York State Housing Finance Agency; New York State Office of Mental Health; New York State Office of Temporary and Disability Assistance/Homeless Housing and Assistance Corp.; New York State Energy Research and Development Authority; New York City Housing Authority; New York City Acquisition Fund; New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene; CSH; Federal Home Loan Bank of New York