Innovation – Housing, Health and Wellness

L+M recently formalized its company values, and we asked our staff to share some of their stories that they feel exemplify our company values.  This submission, third in a series of six, came from Elaine Braithwaite on our Development team, and we think it’s an excellent example of one of our key values: Innovation.   

“High quality affordable housing is just one component of helping people live healthier and happier lives.  Over the last few years we have been looking at innovative ways to integrate the other pieces of the puzzle, including accessible healthcare, healthy and affordable food, childcare, and access to greenspace. For example, 20% of high-need Medicaid recipients use up to 75% of all Medicaid spending, many of whom end up staying overnight at hospitals because they are homeless.  Providing these high need users with a place to live will hopefully decrease pressure on the Medicaid system.

To that point, we recently completed a project in the Bronx which was a partnership with St. Barnabas Hospital (SBH).  The project provides 314 units of affordable housing, including 50 units of supportive housing for high-need Medicaid users through the State’s Medicaid Redesign Team (MRT) program, as well as 45 units of supportive housing for formerly homeless households.  The project also includes a new 50,000 SF wellness center for SBH, a 10,000 SF daycare, community-serving retail spaces, and an office for Bronxworks, a non-profit which is providing services to the project’s supportive housing units.  In addition, SBH is also operating a fitness center and teaching kitchen in the project so that hospital staff can “prescribe” healthy meals and exercise to patients as well as offer low-cost gym memberships to the community at large.  Also, Project Eats, a non-profit dedicated to creating small-plot, high-yield farms to grow and distribute fresh foods locally, is operating a rooftop farm at this project where they are growing produce and selling it at affordable prices to residents and hospital staff. There’s even an apiary!

Project EATS rooftop garden

The apiary where thousands of bees live and honey is harvested   

Next up, we are looking to integrate health and wellness in another project, located in the Brownsville neighborhood of Brooklyn.  Phase 1 will be completed at the end of the year and will include 348 affordable apartments, ground floor retail and community facility space. We are currently exploring a partnership with a healthy and affordable café that provides workforce development opportunities to community members, and also storefront space for Project Eats to create an aquaponic farm.

The second phase of the project, which is currently in design, will include 285 affordable apartments across three buildings. Our team is exploring a partnership with the Brownsville Multi Service Family Health Center to create a federally qualified health center, where we would leverage low income housing tax credits to develop a new 50,000 SF community-focused health center.

Projects like these bring health and wellness directly to residents where they live, and have the potential to be so transformative in their communities.  It is incredibly exciting to see these innovative ideas come to life.”

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