By Kenneth Books
WESTFALL — By Christmas 2016, some 93 Pike County senior citizens may have new, modern housing near Kmart in Westfall Township. Ground was broken for the new housing complex Friday, Oct. 9.“We’re hoping people will be able to move in before next Christmas,” said developer Jonah Mandelbaum. “People are already calling us.” When it’s completed, the complex will have 93 one-bedroom units with living room, bedroom, kitchen and bathroom, plus a common room and pavilions and barbecue facilities for dining al fresco. Each unit, Mandelbaum said, will rent for between $400 and $600, depending on income guidelines, to be set down next year by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The final cost will be in the neighborhood of $10 million, he said. The units will be available to those 55 and older as well as to disabled veterans, he said.
Each unit will contain 700 square feet of living space, he said, in two L-shaped buildings. Mandelbaum is no stranger to this kind of enterprise. The owner of MJJ Builders in Warwick, NY, has built nearly 2,000 similar facilities, he said. He had hoped to begin the project this summer, but the applications, including environmental impact statements, took some three months to complete. Pike County needs housing such as this, said Economic Development Authority Executive Director Michael Sullivan. He said nationally 14.5 percent of Americans are more than 65 years of age. In Pike County, though, the percentage is 20.3. “Just getting seniors around is difficult,” Sullivan said, as many no longer drive.
Mandelbaum said the Westfall Township supervisors are behind the project “100 percent.” He said the project is in response to a request by County Commissioner Matt Osterberg that he build senior housing in Pike County. County Commissioner Richard Caridi said the relationship between Pike County and Mandelbaum “was because Matt knew his family.” “It’s not fair that people of this age in our community have to move somewhere else,” Osterberg said. In addition to the housing, the project will bring a great many jobs to Pike County. Mandelbaum said some 140 construction workers will be employed during the building process, and the completed facility will employ a full-time manager, a superintendent and maintenance personnel.
Sullivan agreed, saying, “This is really an economic development project. These types of projects are the stuff that makes the community grow. I think Kmart (located just beside the project footprint) is going to be happy.” Caridi said the project is funded privately, with no tax dollars being used… for complete story, get this week’s issue.