Tech-Oriented Affordable Seniors Property Opens in Queens

Selfhelp K-VII, a 92-unit affordable seniors housing property at 137-39 45th Ave. in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, has opened.

New York—Selfhelp K-VII, a 92-unit affordable seniors housing property at 137-39 45th Ave. in the Flushing neighborhood of Queens, has opened. Selfhelp, the developer, is a nonprofit dedicated to enabling the elderly and other at-risk populations to live in their own homes, and in this case, the property uses an assortment of tech features to achieve that end.

Selfhelp K-VII features computer-ready units, available Activity of Daily Living monitors and easily accessible roll-in showers. Also, the community room is equipped with video chat-enabled computer workstations, cognitive strengthening units, exercise equipment and health screening kiosks. A social worker based in the building is available to assist residents in using the technology available to them.

The 14-story development also features a Virtual Senior Center (VSC) program, an interactive technology for homebound seniors. For instance, it enables homebound seniors to participate in live events and discussions from the Guggenheim, Museum of Modern Art, New York Historical Society and the New York Hall of Science.

Residents may also participate in weekly wellness classes, courses on self-esteem, managing finances, computer skills, support groups and current events discussions through VSC, and the technology can connect seniors with friends and relatives. Selfhelp Community Services launched the VSC program in 2010 with the support of the New York City Department for the Aging, New York City Department of Information Technology & Telecommunications, and Microsoft.

In addition to being a technology-enabled building, the development incorporates various sustainable features: a waste management plan that diverts at least 25 percent of debris from the landfill; roofing material that meets Energy Star standards; timers on exterior lighting; and recycled content materials, such as acoustic tile, ceramic tile, and drywall. The development’s design not only exceeds the NYS Energy Code by 23 percent, but also upholds the Enterprise Green Communities Criteria, the national framework for creating and preserving green affordable housing.

Another feature of the property is a 9,000-square-foot federally qualified Charles B. Wang Health and Wellness Center, which is being built in conjunction with Selfhelp K-VII to bring medical services to the area. The wellness center is scheduled to open next year.

With a total development cost of $26.1 million, Selfhelp K-VII received fixed-rate tax-exempt bonds issued by New York City Housing Development Corp. (HPD) under its Low-Income Affordable Marketplace Program, with credit enhancement provided by JPMorgan Chase during construction. These tax-exempt bonds were used to finance the $13 million senior mortgage and provide a $5.98 million second subordinate loan funded through the corporation’s reserves. HPD contributed $2.3 million in City Capital funding, $1.5 million in HOME funds, and an additional $400,000 in City Capital funding allocated by the City Council. Enterprise provided $8.6 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credit equity sourced by JP Morgan Chase.