Sun-Sentinel: 75-unit Complex for Low-income Seniors to Open Next Year in Pembroke Pines

May 7th, 2011 By Jackie Larena-Lacayo

75-unit Complex for Low-income Seniors to Open Next Year in Pembroke Pines

By Chris Guanche, Forum Publishing Group

Ground was recently broken on a new senior residential facility in Pembroke Pines. A 75-unit complex will be built at the 25-acre Douglas Gardens North Campus, which is operated by Miami Jewish Health Systems.

The new facility will join two others on the campus that already house low-income seniors. To qualify for a lease, prospective residents must meet certain age and income requirements. Applicants must be age 55 or older, and yearly income cannot exceed $27,750 for a single person, $31,700 for a married couple. And there’s already a waiting list with more than 500 people on it for a building that won’t open until mid to late 2012.

“There’s no doubt that it will open full,” said Morris Funk, chief operating officer of Miami Jewish Health.

The waiting list highlights the need for low-income senior housing, Funk said. However, funding for a new facility will be harder to come by in the future. The new building is being constructed with a $10.5 million grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Section 202 Supportive Housing for the Elderly program. That program is being phased out, and the new Douglas Gardens building is one of only two Florida projects to receive funding this year through the grant.

The new building will differ in some aspects from its neighbors. The building will be constructed to obtain a silver LEED certification. LEED, or Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design, is a building standard created by the U.S. Green Building Council. The LEED standard focuses on environmentally sustainable construction and maintenance standards, including energy efficiency. Funk said the standards will help the building cut down on expenses such as electrical and air conditioning costs.

“There’s a slightly higher initial cost, but the savings will be great down the line,” Funk said. “We think it’s in the best interest of the community to find a way to do that within the HUD grant.”

Another feature the new building will have that its neighbors don’t is an emergency generator. Funk said that would allow the building to serve as a hurricane shelter for its residents, as well as those of the other two buildings.

“We’ll be able to weather out any kind of hurricane,” Funk said.

Funk said the Douglas Gardens North Campus has enough space for more buildings, but Miami Jewish Health will have to look at alternative funding options in the face of decreased federal assistance. What those options are remains to be seen, though.

“We just don’t have an answer for that today,” Funk said.

The Douglas Gardens North Campus is at 705 SW 88th Ave. For more information, visit http://www.mjhha.org.

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