The key to better health may come with the key to the front door of a new apartment, officials who built a new supportive housing development suggest.
A new muli-unit building in Morrisania, that is offering housing for the formerly homeless, along with affordable rents for low-income families, opened on Tuesday, July 19.
Breaking Ground, a non-profit social services organization is the developer.
The colorful façade, modern design and pleasant public areas at the new 154-unit apartment building at 1191 Boston Road will be completely occupied by August, said Brenda Rosen, president of Breaking Ground.
The housing and support services for the formerly homeless at the building are designed to reduce Medicaid costs as part of the New York State and Governor Cuomo’s redesign of Medicaid.
“We knew that if we could get people housed and get them the support services that they need, that the Medicaid costs would go down,” said Rosen, adding that treating health conditions that have not been treated for years in a setting that is not an emergency room will often lead to reduced spending on healthcare.
The agency’s president believes that about $10,000 per formerly homeless person, per year can be saved if people who have been out on the street for months or for decades get the support and health services they need and remain in permanent housing.
Among the services that will be provided are primary medical treatment and psychiatric care, she said.
“The savings come from people not having to use public resources when they are out on the street,” said Rosen, adding that this includes fewer visits to emergency rooms, which are most costly, and people getting early treatment for chronic illnesses that are treatable leading to cost savings.
Sometimes, homeless people perish on the street from chronic medical conditions that are treatable, she said.
Breaking Ground dedicated 94 units to formerly homeless people who were high users of Medicaid dollars. The remaining 60 units were reserved for people and families making from $18,000 to $35,280 per year.
Applications are being accepted for the affordable units.
The 94,000 square-foot, 12-story building features amenities including high-efficiency mechanical systems and lighting, water-saving fixtures, a green roof, fitness room, computer lab, on-site laundry, bicycle storage and 24-hour security. It is also a ‘green building,’ with certification pending.
Construction began in November 2013 and was completed earlier this year.
The housing for the formerly homeless residents works like other rent-stabilized apartments, said Rosen, and it is permanent, with tenants expected to pay rent.
As long as they pay their rent, they can stay as long as they like, she said.
“I think the best thing about (the housing) is that it gives people the opportunity to restore their lives and become contributing members of society once again,” said Rosen.