New Affordable-Housing Community in the Bronx Provides Opportunity for People with Mental Disabilities to Live Independently

April 20, 2017

Michael McGuire (center), CEO for UnitedHealthcare in New York, helps local employees assemble welcome baskets filled with household items for residents of Gouverneur Place Apartments, a new 68-unit affordable housing development in the Bronx. The welcome baskets were presented to the residents at a ribbon-cutting ceremony. UnitedHealthcare invested $7.8 million to help build the new community as part of an initiative to help people live healthier lives by connecting housing and health. (Photo: Colin Sussingham)

  • Grand opening of Gouverneur Place Apartments, a new 68-unit development that integrates quality, affordable-housing with supportive services
  • State of New York and UnitedHealthcare were the largest investors in $20.7 million public-private partnership

During a ribbon-cutting ceremony today, community leaders, affordable-housing advocates and key investment partners celebrated the opening of Gouverneur Place Apartments, a new 68-unit affordable-housing development in the Bronx that integrates high-quality affordable housing with supportive services for residents.

The seven-story affordable-housing community, located at 450 Gouverneur Place, is being applauded as a model public-private partnership. The State of New York and UnitedHealthcare were the largest investors in the new $20.7 million development, which features a mix of studio, 1- , 2- and 3-bedroom apartments, and onsite amenities that include a computer lounge, community room, supportive services, laundry room, bike storage, and outdoor courtyard and recreation area.

An innovative program by the New York State Office of Mental Health (OMH) is providing housing opportunities for people with mental health disabilities through funding and program support for 50 of the residents. Seventeen of the apartments are available to individuals and families earning up to 60 percent of Area Median Income (AMI). An on-site residential building manager will occupy the remaining apartment.

During the event, UnitedHealthcare employees welcomed newly moved-in residents with baskets filled with household supplies, gift cards and other items. Dignitaries and special guests helped hand out the welcome baskets and toured some of the new apartments during the open house portion of the event.

Westhab, Inc., the largest nonprofit provider of affordable housing and supportive services in Westchester County, was the developer of Gouverneur Place Apartments and will provide the property management and supportive services for the building.

"Gouverneur Place is an important public-private partnership that brings new, affordable housing for individuals and families in need to the Bronx," said Richard Nightingale, president & CEO of Westhab, Inc. "This new community brings hope and opportunity for people living with mental disabilities and provides access to support services for the residents who call Gouverneur Place Apartments their home."

The State of New York and UnitedHealthcare were the two major investors of the $20.7 million development, with funding and support also provided by the City of New York. 

OMH awarded $11.7 million in capital funds through bonds issued by the Dormitory Authority of the State of New York (DASNY). OMH is also providing subsidies to support operating and supportive-services costs, as well as debt service payments for the bonds. New York State Homes and Community Renewal provided the 4 percent tax credits for the project.

"As one of the largest issuers of tax-exempt debt in the nation, DASNY understands the value that these funds provide to the development of critical social infrastructure projects across the state," said Gerrard P. Bushell, DASNY president & CEO. "Gouverneur Place Apartments is a great example of how public-private partnerships can successfully advance our social goals."

"Gouverneur Place Apartments provides safe, secure and affordable housing to help individuals with mental illness find recovery and build the resiliency they need to live happy and healthy lives," said Office of Mental Health Commissioner Ann Marie T. Sullivan, M.D. "The Office of Mental Health is proud to extend our financial and technical support for this new community and its residents."

The funding by the State of New York is part of Gov. Andrew Cuomo's commitment to affordable housing and community revitalization, which includes the $1 billion House NY program, the state's largest affordable-housing investment in nearly two decades. House NY is making progress creating and preserving more than 14,300 affordable homes over five years. Gouverneur Place Apartments also supports New York City's Housing New York Initiative.

New York State Homes and Community Renewal Commissioner RuthAnne Visnauskas said: "We are proud to combine our expertise and resources with those of our public and private sector partners to advance Gov. Cuomo's ambitious housing plan. Gouverneur Place Apartments provides new, safe and decent housing that not only enables people to live independently – with supportive services available – it is affordable to persons of modest means. This development will change the lives of residents, as it strengthens the broader Morrisania community."

UnitedHealthcare, which employs 6,300 people in New York state and serves the health care needs of nearly 4 million New Yorkers, invested $7.8 million in Low Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) equity in partnership with Enterprise Community Investment.

Since 2011, UnitedHealthcare has provided more than $350 million to help build and invest in new community developments throughout the United States that provide affordable-housing opportunities with support services for low-income individuals and families, including seniors, military veterans, people living with disabilities and people struggling with homelessness.

"This partnership is helping people live healthier lives by connecting health to housing, expanding access to safe affordable housing with support services," said Michael McGuire, CEO of UnitedHealthcare in New York. "UnitedHealthcare is grateful for the opportunity to work with Enterprise and the other development partners to bring this new apartment community to the Bronx."

Enterprise is a national organization that builds and preserves affordable housing in thriving communities connected to health care, good schools, jobs and transit. UnitedHealthcare and Enterprise have worked together to invest $105 million in affordable-housing developments in five states, including New York.

"Supportive housing is a proven and cost-effective solution that ends homelessness for those with the highest barriers to housing," said Judi Kende, vice president and New York market leader, Enterprise. "Enterprise was proud to partner with UnitedHealthcare and Westhab on this development. By pairing homes for people with mental health disabilities with supportive services that help them live independently, home becomes more than just a place to live – it's a springboard that helps people reach their potential."

According to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Commission on Health, the affordability of housing has clear implications for health. The shortage of affordable housing limits families' and individuals' choices about where they live, often relegating lower-income families to substandard housing in unsafe, overcrowded neighborhoods with higher rates of poverty and fewer resources for healthy outdoor and exercise activities (e.g., parks, bike paths, recreation centers and activities). The financial burden of unaffordable housing can prevent families from meeting other basic needs including nutrition and health care, and is particularly significant for low-income families.