Traditional institutional and governmental remedies to housing the low-income senior individual has led to high-rise slums.  These projects eventually (in one manner or another) all fall on the taxpayer to fund.  Two very recent (and future) examples of future quasi-governmental responses are:

                               Margot and Harold Schiff Residences - Chicago

The Margot and Harold Schiff Residences was built in 2007 on the site of the demolished Cabrini-Green public housing in Chicago.  This high-rise project consists of 96 single occupancy rooms that share  common living spaces, bathrooms and kitchens.  Funding was through a blend of government (federal, state, and city) grants, private grants, donations and institutional lending.  The stated purpose of the project was "to facilitate the development of affordable, permanent housing with on-site social services." 


PROS:  New, modern, sleek, green and energy efficient, replaced dilapidated buildings, many windows, won several architectural awards for the acclaimed architect Helmut Jahn, portion of the public loves it, and made Mayor Daly proud.


Statement by the architect: "We learned the depth of what we set out to prove: that affordable housing need not be of a lower standard or lesser quality.  By designing an uplifting space, not just a shelter, you break the idea that comfort is connected to wealth."


CONS:  Cost - $18,000,000 ($186,500 per person).  Institutional, no front yard, no back yard, sterile, no feeling of being part of the larger community, burden on the taxpayer.  As a non-profit the property is off the tax rolls and the city loses revenue and other residents take up the slack.


Statement by a tenant: "I have lived in modernism for a year, now but I want a house that I can live in and be part of."



Mountain Clinic Building - Olean

The Mountain Clinic Building was originally built in 1904 as the first hospital in Olean, New York and is currently slated for a renovation by the  State of New York in conjunction with their Homeless Housing Assistance Program (HHAP) and a local non-profit group, Cattaraugus Community Action from Salamanca, New York.  It will be the first homeless shelter in the County and will additionally house 21  single room occupancy individuals on the second through fourth floors.  The construction will be paid through grant money from the state of New York and plans are in the process of being approved by the City of Olean.


PROS:  Wonderful adaptive reuse of a structurally sound, centrally located building.  Minimal interior changes will have to be made.  The bulk of the expense will be to meet long-term energy standards in upgrading the windows, HVAC systems, plumbing, and electrical.  Additionally, the safety and handicapped systems have to upgraded (i.e. elevator, stairs, security, etc.).

Statement from the Mayor:  This is a solid concrete building and this will be a great use for the property.  We look forward to the renovation.


CONS:  Projected Cost - $2,400,000 ($114,285 per person).  Dormitory type living with an asphalt yard.  High security for ingress and egress, with no privacy.  Again the taxpayer is picking up the tab.  As a non-profit the property is taken off the tax rolls and the taxing entities (schools, city, county) loses tax revenue.


Statement from a neighbor:  Do we want to concentrate so many low-income individuals so close to single family residences?



125 South Barry Street, Olean

103 South Barry Street, Olean

321 North First Street, Olean

These multi-family/multi-use properties have been fully renovated and are currently being  utilized (since 2007) to house low-income seniors in a cohousing living arrangement.  Social workers (from the county and state) and social service providers (from the local area) are aware that these properties are well managed and provide a safe, clean, well maintained living environment for their clients.  Referrals from these agencies keep the properties at 100% occupancy.


PROS:  Cost - $7,500 per person.  No government funding or expenditures.  No cost to the taxpayer.  Property remains on the tax rolls and generates revenue for the taxing entities (schools, city and county).  Generates positive cash flow for the owners.  The renovation improves the neighborhood.  Centrally located to all social services, shopping, medical facilities, and transportation.  All items and furnishings necessary for day-to-day living are provided (from knives, forks, and spoons to bicycles) - the tenants need only to bring their own clothes.  This is a win-win situation for both the community and the low-income seniors in providing a place where they can "age in place". 


Statement from Code Enforcement:  The current use of these properties is in conformance with city zoning and there are no complaints or violations against these properties.


CONS:  ???  None.


Statement from the neighbors:  Now we have to spend money on our property to make ours look as good as their renovation!