Fischer Senior Apartments will bring new affordable housing options to seniors in the Bronx in New York City.
Courtesy West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing Fischer Senior Apartments will bring new affordable housing options to seniors in the Bronx in New York City.

Officials have broken ground on a 105-unit affordable housing community for seniors, with 54 homes to serve people who were formerly homeless in New York City.

Located in the Bronx, Fischer Senior Apartments is the latest development by the West Side Federation for Seniors and Supportive Housing (WSFSSH).

The nonprofit will pilot a new model at the development to help seniors age in place—two dedicated floors for enhanced care, where studio apartments will share a common lounge and terrace as well as employ a “cluster care” model to provide extended supervision, reminders, assistance with day-to-day activities, and help with meal preparation to provide nutrition support.

Social work and recreation staff will help residents manage their finances, pay rent and meet basic needs, obtain and maintain medical and mental health care and counseling, and participate in a range of activities.

The enhanced-care program is intended to reduce unnecessary nursing home stays, relying upon careful design intended to create social interaction and limit isolation while providing greater opportunities for program staff to become quickly aware of residents’ changing needs.

“The measure of our worth as a society is how we treat our most vulnerable,” said WSFSSH executive director Paul Freitag. “As the senior population in the city grows, we have an obligation to deliver good quality housing that meets their needs and enables them to live healthy, engaged, rewarding lives.”

A study by LiveOn NY, which represents a diverse network of nonprofits that serve older New Yorkers, found that over 200,000 older adults are on waitlists for affordable housing and spend an average of seven years waiting for an apartment.

“As one of the most respected senior services organizations in the city, WSFSSH is uniquely suited to piloting a new service delivery model that incorporates services and housing at Fischer Senior Apartments to address this need,” said Allison Nickerson, executive director of LiveOn NY. “Once open, Fischer will be a great resource for older New Yorkers to age in place with dignity and respect and will be an important part of the community.

The building will be part of the city’s Affordable Independent Residences for Seniors program, and all units will be reserved for households 55 and older who earn no more than 50% of the area median income.

All units will be covered under the project-based Section 8 program by the New York City Housing Authority, guaranteeing that tenants pay no more than 30% of their income to rent.

Designed by Shakespeare Gordon Vlado Architects, the building will have a contextual brick façade that builds on the historic art deco designs in the neighborhood, a setback level with a landscaped terrace, maximized light and air to units and corridors, and a landscaped rear yard. The building entry is flanked by large windows that engage the sidewalk and enhance the pedestrian experience.

Sustainable elements include passive solar shading, energy-efficient windows and lighting, and rooftop solar panels by Accord Power. The building is slated to achieve the 2020 Enterprise Green Communities standards. Procida-Butz is the general contractor of the project.

The total development budget is approximately $69 million. Capital One is providing a $32.9 million construction loan, a $19 million Freddie Mac forward commitment for a fixed-rate loan, and a $25.2 in low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) equity investment.

Other financing includes the city Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s Senior Affordable Rental Apartments program, 9% LIHTCs syndicated by National Equity Fund, Reso A discretionary funds from council member Althea Stevens and borough president Vanessa Gibson, the state Homeless Housing and Assistance Program, and a deferred developer fee.