Affordable Seniors Housing Property Wins $1.1M Grant for Rehab

Denton Green Housing, a 113-unit apartment property for low-income seniors in Long Island, will soon get a much-needed makeover now that the property has won a grant from New York State Homes and Community Renewal.

Long Island, N.Y.—Denton Green Housing, a 113-unit apartment property for low-income seniors in Long Island’s Town of North Hempstead, will soon get a much-needed makeover now that the property has won a grant from New York State Homes and Community Renewal. The organization will provide just over $1.1 million in annual tax credit allocation as part of its Unified Funding 2011 Multi-Family Project Awards to finance the rehabilitation of the nearly 40-year-old building.

Denton Green Housing Co. Inc., the owner of the property, has brought SKA Marin aboard to serve as the developer for the renovation endeavor. “We’re going to use the money from the tax credits to renovate the building and bring it up to modern standards,” Sydelle Knepper, founder and owner of SKA Marin, tells MHN. “It needs new windows, it needs additional handicap accessibility, it needs new elevators, a better driveway because there’s quite a large expanse of lawn. We’re going to upgrade kitchens and baths. We’ll do all the renovations necessary for the project to sustain itself over the next 30 years.”

The owner will also use some of the funds to pay off the small amount remaining on the property’s mortgage. “So the building will be debt free,” Knepper says.

Denton Green first opened its doors in 1972 as a project developed under the State of New York’s Mitchell-Lama program, which was established in 1955 to provide affordable rental housing. The endeavor resulted in the development of over 269 apartment communities featuring an aggregate 105,000 units. However, 93 of the Mitchell-Lama housing program projects accounting for 31,700 units are no longer under the program. The rehabilitation of Denton Green, one of only two Mitchell-Lama developments on Long Island, is of the utmost importance to the area. “Affordable senior housing is a growing and critical part of the housing mix here on Long Island as the population ages,” New York’s Rep. Carolyn McCarthy, noted in a prepared statement.

The existence of low-income housing in Nassau County is scarce, for the general public, and particularly so for seniors. The lack of available land for new developments and strict regulations for the approval of affordable housing projects render the situation all the more dire. “On Long Island, it is particularly difficult to find affordable housing for many reasons,” Knepper explains. “Multifamily rental housing is unusual there. In Nassau County in particular, there are zoning constraints and there are just a lot of issues in terms of affordable housing in general.”

According to Knepper, with the renovation, Denton Green will be in the market for the long haul. “What we’re trying to do  is bring this project into the 21st Century vis-à-vis energy improvements, quality of life improvements and just materials, as well as trying to create more of an environment for people to age in place.”

There is a long waiting list at the apartment community, where people get in and stay put. Many of the residents have called Denton Green home for decades. “There’s a great need,” Knepper says. “And in the more difficult times, affordable housing becomes even more important, across all populations.”