Metro East 99th Street is one of the first developments built under New York’s bold Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) initiative that seeks to curb high health-care costs while still trying to improve quality.
The East Harlem project came about when a long-term care facility was slated to be closed. Many of the patients no longer needed full-time care. They could live independently if they had the right services, but they had few housing options, says Sydelle Marin Knepper, CEO of developer SKA Marin.
That changed when her firm built Metro East, a development that combines affordable housing and health care for this vulnerable population.
All residents living in the property’s 175 units have been referred by the New York City Health and Hospitals Corp. from long-term health-care facilities, according to Knepper. The move allows people to live independently while saving millions of dollars each year in Medicaid costs.
“I think it’s a model that you could use all over the country, wherever you have people who are using emergency rooms or are high Medicaid users,” Knepper says.
The majority of the residents are either mobility impaired or chronically disabled, including several paraplegics and quadriplegics, and the entire facility accommodates their needs. The building, which features studio and one-bedroom apartments, is designed with rail bars in all hallways, three elevators, and roll-in showers.
Metro East is conveniently located across the street from Metropolitan Hospital. The new development also houses an on-site adult day program for residents, operated by the Carter Burden Center for the Aging.
To help finance the $52.2 million project, the state provided $7.3 million through the MRT program. Metro East comes after Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo announced that New York has finalized terms and conditions with the federal government for a groundbreaking waiver that will allow the state to reinvest $8 billion in federal savings generated by MRT reforms.
Other financing included low-income housing tax credits, which provided approximately $21 million in equity from Raymond James Tax Credit Funds.