Gibson, Stevens break ground on new supportive housing development for seniors in Highbridge

A rendering shows plans for the Fischer Senior Apartments, which are set to open in Bronx Community District 4 in 2025.
A rendering shows plans for the Fischer Senior Apartments, which are set to open in Bronx Community District 4 in 2025.
Photo courtesy Bianca Landry

Shovels are in the ground for the Fischer Senior Apartments — the Bronx’s newest affordable housing project for area seniors — Bronx Borough President Vanessa Gibson, Councilmember Althea Stevens and West Side Federation for Senior and Supportive Housing (WSFSSH) leadership announced this week. The WSFSSH project will deliver 105 new homes for area seniors across nine stories — including 54 units for the formerly houseless and more than 4,000 square feet of amenity space for the provision of a broad slate of supportive services.

“The measure of our worth as a society is how we treat our most vulnerable,” said WSFSSH Executive Director Paul Freitag. “As the senior population in the city grows, we have an obligation to deliver good quality housing that meets their needs and enables them to live healthy, engaged, rewarding lives.”

The building will be part of the Affordable Independent Residences for Seniors (AIRS) program and all units will be reserved for households 55 years and older making less than 50% of the Area Median Income (AMI).

“We are currently experiencing a housing crisis with many Bronxites struggling to pay rent and afford basic necessities,” Gibson said. “The Fischer Senior Apartments will ensure that our seniors, formerly unhoused residents, and other vulnerable New Yorkers receive the affordable, quality, and safe housing needed to age in place and with dignity in our communities.”

WSFSSH’s goal with Fischer Senior Apartments will be to meet seniors where they are, with 24-hour on-site staffing and supportive services that will help them live their healthiest and most fulfilled lives. Social work and recreation staff will help residents manage their finances, pay rent and meet basic needs, obtain and maintain medical and mental healthcare and counseling, and participate in a range of activities.

In addition, WSFSSH will pilot a new model at the Fischer Senior Apartments to help seniors age in place, two dedicated floors for enhanced care — where studio apartments will share a common lounge and terrace — and employ a “cluster care” model to provide extended supervision, reminders, assistance with day-to-day activities and help with meal preparation to provide nutrition support.

Stevens said the project is a positive one for her Council District 16. She represents the Bronx neighborhoods of Claremont, Concourse, Concourse Village, Highbridge, Morris Heights, Mount Eden and Morrisania.

“This project holds great significance to the District 16 community as it provides stability and well-deserved dignified living for our seniors,” she said. “Our collaborative investment showcases our commitment to improving the lives of our seniors while addressing the pressing issue of housing insecurity in our community. I am grateful that this project will not only offer housing but more accessibility to supportive services and resources to continue addressing issues affecting our community.”

The enhanced care program at Fischer Senior Apartments is intended to reduce unnecessary nursing home stays, relying upon design intended to create social interaction and limit social isolation, while providing greater opportunities for program staff to become quickly aware of residents’ changing needs.

An important element of the WSFSSH mission is that each building becomes an integrated part of its neighborhood.

Designed by Shakespeare, Gordon, Vlado: Architects — a Women Business Enterprise architecture firm — the building will have a contextual brick façade that builds on the historic Art Deco designs in the neighborhood, a setback level with a landscaped terrace, maximized light and air to units and corridors, and a landscaped rear yard. The building entry is flanked by large windows that engage the sidewalk and enhance the pedestrian experience.

Sustainable elements include passive solar shading, energy-efficient windows and lighting, and rooftop solar panels by Accord Power. The building is slated to achieve the 2020 Enterprise Green Communities standards. Procida-Butz is the general contractor of the project.

Fischer Senior Apartments represents a deepening relationship between WSFSSH and the Bronx. Its existing Claremont development, also located in Bronx Community District 4, has operated for over a decade; when Fischer Senior Apartments opens, WSFSSH will manage more than 800 units of affordable senior housing in the Bronx, or 30% of its total portfolio.

In conjunction with the Jerome Avenue Revitalization Collaborative, WSFSSH will create a jobs recruitment program to maximize job placement in the local community. The protocol will include sharing the list of likely permanent jobs with local job readiness programs and job development centers and holding at least one job fair in the neighborhood once construction is substantially complete.

The total development budget is approximately $69 million. The funding is coming from Capital One, the NYC Department of Housing Preservation and Development’s Senior Affordable Rental Apartments program, the state Low-Income Housing Tax Credit Program syndicated by the National Equity Fund, discretionary funds from Stevens and Gibson, the state Homeless Housing and Assistance Program, and a deferred developer fee. Each unit will have project-based Section 8 from the New York City Housing Authority (NYCHA), guaranteeing that no tenant pays more than 30% of their income to rent.

The Fischer Senior Apartments are set to open in 2025.

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