The Miami Herald-NEIGHBORS-Becker Public Relation May 13,2012

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The Miami Herald


Becker Public Relations May 13, 2012

Low-income apartments renovated in Brownsville

By Theo Karantsalis

Community leaders celebrated the grand opening last week, of the recently renovated Mildred and Claude Pepper Towers, an apartment building for low-income senior citizens in Brownsville.

“The Claude Pepper towers are a unique example of a successful rehabilitation utilizing a combination of public and private financing sources,” said Steve Protulis, executive director of the Elderly Housing Development and Operations Corp., a nonprofit developer that owns the building. Protulis thanked everyone who helped keep seniors in their homes during the $9 million rehab with “minimal disruption.”

The 15-month project created jobs for about 100 union construction workers, each of whom took great care to facilitate the process for elderly tenants. For example, in a single day, crews were able to pack up a tenant’s belongings, tear out and replace a kitchen and bathroom, and return the tenant to their unit in time for dinner.

“This is a wonderful facelift for the community,” said Miami-Dade Commissioner Audrey Edmonson, whose office is across the street at the Caleb Center. “I am pleased to be here and to see this development continue Claude Pepper’s legacy of fighting for the needs of the elderly.”

Edmonson has been an advocate for affordable housing throughout her district, which extends from Liberty City up to North Miami.

The need for affordable housing is evidenced by the waiting list of 800 people to get in at the Pepper Towers, 2350 NW 54th St.

All of the units have one bedroom and rent for $150, subsidized by taxpayers. Units are only available to pre-qualified low-income seniors.

Total funding for the 150-unit renovation plus rent subsidies was nearly $11 million, which was raised through the sale of low-income-housing tax credits allocated by Florida Housing Finance Corp. In addition, a Housing and Urban Development-insured mortgage for $4 million was handled by Wells Fargo.

The project was also awarded $2.3 in federal stimulus money.

The green construction used to renovate the Claude Pepper building, originally built in 1978, has tenants beaming with features like energy-efficient lighting, high-efficiency windows, new kitchen cabinets and counter tops, and full-size Energy-Star rated appliances.Other amenities include a computer room, a gym and even a library.

“We have aerobics, bingo and sometimes charter a bus to go shopping at Wal-Mart,” said resident Carrie St. Lot, 69, who ran a well-known ice cream business on Northwest 15th Avenue for decades.

St. Lot’s “youth” is what led her to head a volunteer group at the towers that keeps seniors, many who are in their 90s, extra busy with special activities and field trips.

“I am a teenager compared to them,” she said.

Each floor has a “captain” who checks daily on residents by knocking on the doors or making phone calls. If no one answers, another resident will enter to make sure all is well. It is this sense of camaraderie that keeps the seniors close.

And almost every week, they all get together for a party.

“We love to celebrate each other’s birthdays.”

Photo caption: Residents of the Mildred and Claude Pepper Towers pose outside their newly renovated home on Friday.

Bipartisan Housing Commission Recommends Federal Policies that Supports Housing Plus Services for Seniors

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At the Leading Age Annual Conference held in October 2013, Nan Roman, a member of the Bipartisan Policy Center Housing Commission, spoke on the Housing Commission’s recommendations to support federal policies to promote housing plus services for seniors. She indicated that the Housing Commission was established in 2011, as a bipartisan effort to develop a new vision for federal housing policy by drafting a package of realistic policy recommendations that respond to both the near-term and long-term challenges facing the nation’s housing needs. Former HUD Secretaries, Mel Martinez and Henry Cisneros, are two of the four co-chairs on the 21-member Bipartisan Housing Commission.

In its recent report, “Housing America’s Future: Nevv Directions for National Pohcy”, the Bipartisan Housing Commission, reported that “federal assistance programs currently help approximately five million low-income households afford housing. However, only about one in four renter households eligible for assistance actually receives it. Because demand so far outstrips supply, these scarce rental subsidies are often allocated through lengthy waiting lists and by lotteries.” The Bipartisan Housing Commission recognizes that “the aging of the population will necessitate major changes in the way we operate as a nation, to include the housing sector. While the number of Americans aged 65 and older is expected to more than double between 2010 and 2040, we are still largely unprepared to meet the needs of the overwhelming numbers of seniors who wish to “age in place” in their own homes and communities.”

Included among the four key frameworks for federal policy recommendations by the Housing Commission was for a more comprehensive focus on meeting the housing needs of our nation’s seniors that responds to their desire to age in place and recognizes the importance of integrating housing with health care and other services. I was particularly pleased that the Bipartisan Housing Commission recommended the need for better cooperation and coordination between the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), a key recommendation of the earlier Congressionally appointed Senior Housing and Health Care Commission that I was honored to be a member. The Bipartisan Housing Commission reinforces the earlier findings of the Senior Commission that housing plus services will impact future spending on health care and suggests to the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that such savings be considered in allocating resources to housing in the future.

– Steve Protulis, Executive Director

The Leaders – Senior Towers marks 35 years

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The Leader Arkansas Newspaper

Anniversary for elderly high rise is celebrated as a success story for city on April 5, 2014

Senior Towers marks 35 years


By Jeffrey Smith
Leader staff writer

Jacksonville Towers Bingaman Place celebrated its 35th anniversary during a luncheon on Tuesday. The high rise for low-income seniors is fully occupied with 106 residents. It opened on March 31, 1979.

Former Mayor James Reid said the Jacksonville Towers was one of the projects most prized to him as mayor.

The United Auto Workers and Central Arkansas Retiree Council helped make Jacksonville Towers a reality. Reid received $2,500 from an anonymous donor in town, with which the UAW submitted an application for Section 202 federal funding for low-income senior housing.

Kenneth Pat Wilson with First Arkansas Bank and Trust gave a $100,000 letter of credit for the project.

Dec. 30, 1977, was the last day the builder would hold his price for the project. A contract was signed with the Housing and Urban Development, but they had no money to draw.

First Arkansas Bank gave a draw of $294,000 with a commitment from HUD that the money would be there within 20 days.

“After it was completed, it was new and beautiful. Today it’s more beautiful than it was that day. When you drive in from North Little Rock, that’s one of the first things you see is this building. It’s put us on the map,” Reid said.

Mayor Gary Fletcher said Jacksonville Towers is a landmark of the city.

“I wished we had 10 of these. There is a spirit of unity here,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher said he was going to look for land in the city for more senior living because the demand will grow.
Linda Hardway, state HUD director of multiple-family housing, said, “Jacksonville Towers is a beautiful property. It is one of three elderly high rises in the state that we at the HUD office give the test of ‘would you let your mother live there?’ I would say yes,”

Hardway added that federal funding for senior housing has been suffering from cuts by Congress over the past two years. She is hopeful funding will resume.

Steve Protulis, executive director for Elderly Housing Development and Operations Corporation — a nonprofit that manages senior centers — said, “We have a blessed staff, building and people.

“(The UAW members) were willing to doing something for the community when their own seniors don’t qualify to be here; that’s commitment,” Protulis said.

Dorothy Moore, 95, is the longest resident of Jacksonville Towers — 33 years since 1981.

“This is a nice place to live, has been for years. I lived in town when it opened up and knew a lot of people who lived here,” Moore said.

Chamber of Commerce director Amy Mattison said her grandmother lived at Jacksonville Towers. She visited her after school and hung out on the balcony.

She said her grandmother was not from Arkansas, but got along with residents. She taught them how to knit and sew.

Mattison said she was able to interact with her grandma’s friends. The building had a sense of family, she said.

Mattison added that the chamber gets calls daily inquiring about Jacksonville Towers and Worley’s Place, where active seniors live.