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Feb. 15, 2012

First Westchester County Affordable Assisted Living Facility Opens

By Dees Stribling, Contributing Editor

Yonkers, N.Y.—The Westchester Center for Independent & Assisted Living has opened in Yonkers as the first facility in Westchester County, N.Y., to offer an Medicaid-funded assisted living model of care to seniors, regardless of their income level. As a participant in the New York State licensed Assisted Living Program (ALP), the Westchester Center will be able to provide ALP services for Medicaid benefit recipients.

As a licensed ALP, health-related services such as medication assistance and personal care management will be available to residents, all designed to help them maintain independent lives but with privacy not typically found in a nursing home setting. Previously, this “entry-level” but upscale, Medicaid-eligible long-term care model was unavailable in Westchester County, where the only option for many individuals seeking some assistance in their daily lives was the more intensive and often unnecessary care offered in a nursing home.

The property features a number of amenities usually associated with higher-level multifamily dwellings. All residents, regardless of source of income, will have supportive services such as housekeeping and restaurant-style dining. Other amenities include an in-house movie theater, concierge services, beauty salon, billiard room and scheduled daily entertainment. Private-pay rates for such a facility might run $4,000 to $5,000 a month.

The 104,000-square-foot facility can accommodate 195 residents. The 12-acre hilltop property formerly belonged to the Jewish Guild for the Blind, which operates nursing and assisted living facilities in New York State. Westchester ALP Property LLP bought the property in 2010 for $14 million and did a gut rehab on the structure to create the Westchester Center for Independent & Assisted Living.

The Yonkers Industrial Development Agency provided a variety of financial incentives for the project, including a sales and use tax exemption on construction materials, fixtures and furnishings and a structured property tax agreement. “Building affordable housing requires a strong partnership between private developers and all levels of government, Yonkers Mayor Mike Spano, who is also chairman of the Yonkers Industrial Development Agency, tells MHN, but he adds that the climate is tougher than it used to be for such developments.

“Moving forward, finding public funding for affordable senior housing will be increasingly difficult, as government must continue to confront tough fiscal choices,” the mayor notes. “Yonkers and the IDA will look to make strategic investments that bring real economic value to our community. One such example is the Westchester Center, a lower-cost housing alternative to nursing homes for Medicaid-eligible seniors that potentially saves taxpayer funds.”

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