Posts Tagged ‘Town of Ulster’

Redefining Affordable

Monday, November 15th, 2010

Kingston, 11-10 by Kim Plummer

Over the past few years there has been a dramatic decrease in the number of affordable housing developments being built throughout New York State. For aging boomers seeking affordable housing, the key is to start looking early, do your homework, and reach out to local agencies, sources say.

Ken Harris, senior policy analyst for New York Association of Homes and Services for the Aging (NYAHSA) says the decline in this sort of housing can be attributed to increased costs and zoning issues. “A lot of housing that needs to go through zoning changes is finding opposition from neighbors in many cases,” Harris says. “It’s a recent trend that’s difficult.” . . .

When looking for affordable senior housing, one should keep in mind that affordable housing can still be very competitive with market-rate housing as far as amenities go. A lot of people believe the more you pay, the more services you get, but that’s not always the case, Harris says.

Housing is unique; amenities, transportation services, and communities vary quite a bit, even in the realm of affordable housing units. Harris suggests people do their homework when searching for affordable housing; one element he finds particularly important to seniors is an onsite service coordinator.

“The service coordinator is sort of like a linchpin between the resident and services in the community,” Harris says. “They can help the resident find resources in the community – everything from Medicare, Medicaid, help with information, and supportive health services.”

Currently, The Birches at Chambers in Ulster and the Birches at Esopus in Ulster Park are two ADA-compliant, affordable housing facilities resembling market-rate housing. Amenities in the average rental price of about $750 per month include fitness trainers in the onsite fitness studio, a movie theater, community rooms, a library, fully equipped computer labs with Internet access, and craft rooms. Additionally, The Birches at Chambers is anticipating LEED Platinum certification and has been certified as a NYUSERDA Energy $mart Building. “It’s not what people expect to see for affordable housing,” says K.J. McIntyre, director of marketing for Birchez Associates, LLC.

Most recently, Birchez Associates has received initial funding from the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York to build affordable senior housing onto the Elant campus, a nursing home in Fishkill. This will be another ADA-compliant facility. “With the service of Elant close at hand, we can offer additional home health and nursing care as needed, while our residents continue to live in their homes, as opposed to the nursing home environment,” McIntyre says.

Birchez Associates also owns and manages two additional affordable senior housing communities. Chambers Court, completed in 2004, provides cottage-style one- and two-bedroom apartments adjacent to The Birches at Chambers in Ulster. The Birches at Saugerties is another affordable senior community completed in 2006 with 60 garden-style apartments. . . .

Seniors who need assistance finding affordable housing can contact their local Office for the Aging, where they can be provided with additional consultation about affordable housing as well as Active Adult Communities that specially reserve units for affordable housing.

Photo: The Birches at Esopus

Excerpted from the full article, Affordable Housing Trends: Redefining Affordable, in the Boomer’s Guide to Living 2010 published by Schein Media (Kingston, NY)

The publication is currently available by clicking here.


Going Green: Affordable housing can also be sustainable

Monday, August 23rd, 2010

08/22/2010 12:38 PM YNN for the Hudson Valley by Terry Ettinger

Click here for link to broadcast

Affordable housing can also be sustainable, energy-efficient housing – case in point, a new 66-unit senior citizen apartment complex recently dedicated in Ulster County.“Radiant heat in the floors, 70 percent of our heat and hot water is produced with solar power, a 50 kw photovoltaic electric system, every single apartment is air-blower tested for air infiltration, the air conditioning systems have the highest efficiency ratings available, the heating systems are European in design and they know about saving energy over there because they’ve been paying more than we have. Our boilers, for example, are 97 to 98 percent efficiency,” said Steve Aaron, Managing Member of Birchez Associates. Birchez Associates was able to do this in part by obtaining state grants.

“New York State has a number of programs that help support builders and developers who are interested in trying to provide a sustainable approach to construction. I divide them into two groups; one is at the single- family level (individual homes) and the other is for multi-family homes and building support as well,” said Paul Crovella, Sustainable Construction Management and Engineering, SUNY-ESF.

Paul Crovella teaches sustainable construction management.

“The single-family home, New York State currently has a program for builders interested in going through Energy Star certification for the home. It provides money for the builders to do that and essentially offsets quite a bit of the cost,” said Crovella.

Similar programs are available for multi-family construction like senior citizen housing offering incentives for developers to think green when they’re in the design stage for upgrading the insulation, window quality and the efficiency of the heating plant, like they did at the new Birches at Chambers, and Crovella believes it’s a worthwhile program.

“It makes a lot of sense in that the individual who is building a project like that, if they know they’re not going to be paying the utility bills over the life of the building then they have very little incentive to put in a better window or improve the efficiency,” said Crovella.


Central Hudson’s Almanac Salutes Birchez’ Green Affordable Commitment

Saturday, August 21st, 2010

August 20, 2010: Paul Tesoro, Director of Communications for Central Hudson, hosts a daily broadcast called Almanac aired on multiple Hudson Valley radio stations. We were pleased that he featured The Birches at Chambers and The Birches at Esopus in today’s broadcast. Paul highlighted the amenities that our communities offer and how they contribute to the quality of life for our residents. In addition, the broadcast covered the green aspects that ultimately contribute not only to health but also affordability. To listen to the broadcast, click here (it takes a moment for the intro to kick in).


Resident Profile: Aleta Elsworth

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

For Aleta Elsworth, a nurse’s aide for 27 years who was born and raised in Kingston, there’s simply no place like home.

“My husband and I went to Florida for seven months,” she says.  “Only seven months — we came back to Kingston.  All our family was here.”

Aleta has a big family.  Between her and her husband, Clarence, there are 10 kids (three of her own, seven step-children), and she has two younger (twin) sisters who live in the same community as her at Chambers Court in the Town of Ulster.

“A lot of people think we’re triplets, but I’m the oldest,” says Aleta of her sisters.  “They’re twins.  They’re funny, and a lot of people here get the biggest kick out of them, because they bicker at each other,” she laughs.

Things weren’t always so easy for Aleta and her sisters, though.

“I lived on Franklin Street with my sisters and my mom,” she recalls.  “I took care of my mom, and she lived with me for quite awhile, and then she passed away.  Then we couldn’t afford it  anymore because the rent was too high, and we had to pay all the utilities…so we had to find another place.  I had had an application in here at Chambers Court, but Birches in Saugerties was opening up, so I lived there first.  And then when a cottage unit became available at Chambers Court, I moved here, because I really wanted to be here.  This is convenient to everything — you can go to ShopRite, you can go to the mall — it’s really, really nice.”

Since moving to Chambers Court, Aleta has enjoyed all of what it and its neighboring community, The Birches at Chambers, have to offer.  She and Clarence are frequent visitors to the fitness studio, and Aleta makes routine appearances at the regularly held community tea parties.

“And I know they have the computer lab — I really don’t know anything about computers, but I want to learn.  So I’m interested in that,” she adds.

But it’s not just the fun stuff that makes Aleta love her home: the convenience of having a handicapped accessible apartment has truly improved her quality of life, as she’s sometimes unable to get around without a wheelchair.

“I’ve had four different surgeries on my feet and I have two more to go, and it’s great that my apartment is handicapped accessible,” she says.  “It has a roll in shower, because when I have my surgery, I can’t walk.”

Aleta is also a strong supporter of Alice Tipp, the Birches Communities’ official Senior Advocate.  Without her, says Aleta, she would have been lost.

“I took my brother-in-law in because he had had a stroke, and my husband and I had power of attorney, and we were his healthcare proxy,” says Aleta.  “Alice helped me because I didn’t know what to do, because we were legally responsible for him.  She called and got me an appointment with an attorney at the Ulster County Office for the Aging. They helped us take care of that situation and resolve it.  She’s wonderful.”

And Alice Tipp isn’t the only member of the Birchez staff that Aleta appreciates.

“Steve Aaron — each place he builds is better than the last one.  I’ve never had a problem.  I’m very happy here.”

Brian Rubin for Birchez Associates, birchezassociates@gmail.com


The Birches at Chambers Affordable Senior Community in Kingston Hosts Dedication on July 8

Wednesday, July 7th, 2010

Hudson Valley Green Sheet July 7, 2010,

Posted By Nancy Meyer

KINGSTON–On Thursday, July 8, the residents of The Birches at Chambers invite the public to the dedication of the newest community of Birchez Associates LLC. The residents will show off their new homes and Birchez Associates will demonstrate what affordable housing can achieve.

Some 200 or more people are expected, including Congressman Maurice Hinchey and other political leaders, to salute the debut of the company’s newest 66-apartment community in the Town of Ulster. The main building qualifies for Platinum LEED Certification, the highest possible achievement in the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design certification process. With the addition of The Birches at Chambers to the family, Birchez has reached a significant milestone of helping over 300 economically qualified seniors to live in energy efficient buildings with outstanding lifestyle amenities, the company reports.

The event will include green building announcements; exhibits will include sustainable building, senior amenities, health & wellness, and rental opportunities and affordability guidelines. Tours will be given to members of the media.

This event will place the spotlight on a public-private sector formula that shows what developers can do to enhance the quality of life for seniors. Birchez Associates’ communities provide affordable opportunities in buildings styled for these citizens.