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$20 mill for affordable senior housing

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Uncle Sam is taking calls from seniors and people with disabilities for new affordable housing.

The U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s 202 program, which helps seniors and the disabled by providing rent subsidies and assistance with housing construction and renovation, has just awarded millions of dollars to Bronx non-profits.

The funding provides interest-free capital advances to non-profit developers so they can construct accessible housing, offer rental assistance, and provide supportive services for the elderly and people with disabilities.

Two Bronx non-profits received 202 grants totalling over $10 million each: Hebrew Home for the Aged in Riverdale and Highbridge Community Development Corporation. The grants will be used for a variety of improvements and renovations. According to HUD, the money to Highbridge Community Development Corporation will fund the construction of 61 one-bedroom apartments for low income seniors, with supportive services that include health and nutrition programs, exercise classes, and computer training.

At Highbridge, an inter generational program is also proposed, enabling the elderly residents to mentor community youth.

“The Obama Administration is committed to making sure our senior citizens and persons with disabilities have opportunities to live in decent, affordable homes,” said HUD secretary Shaun Donovan. “Neither of these groups should ever have to worry about being able to find a safe place to live.”

The grants come in the wake of rumors that the program was facing cuts by the federal government.

The Hebrew Home for the Aged received a capital advance of $9.3 million for substantial renovations to a vacant apartment building at 3247 Johnson Avenue. The 58-unit apartment building, which is already senior housing, will also house residents that are receiving rent subsidies under the 202 program. The Hebrew Home has also received a $1.4 million grant for three years of rental subsidies to qualified seniors.

“One of the greatest needs for seniors in the community is affordable housing,” said Dan Reingold, president and CEO of the The Hebrew Home for the Aged. “We are grateful to help address this critical issue. As the senior population in this country grows, the need for additional low-income apartments in crucial.”

For Highbrige Community Development Corporation, there will be a $9,802,200 capital advance for the new construction, and a $1,492,800 three-year rent subsidy from the Section 202 program.

The grant money for Hebrew Home, meanwhile, was made available by HUD through the work of US Senator Kirsten Gillibrand and Congressman Eliot Engel.

The building at Johnson Avenue, which is already owned by the agency, should include 58 one-bedroom housing units. Construction will occur using sustainable “green” materials. Engel expressd his support for the program, and of Hebrew Home’s plans for the development.

“The money comes in two parts, $9,329,600 in capital funds to rehabilitate the building on Johnson Avenue, and $1,419,300 in rental subsidies,” Engel said. “This money will not only create homes for seniors, but economically reinvigorate the neighborho­od.”

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