Comunilife is a 33-year-old nonprofit with a longstanding relationship with St. Barnabas Hospital. The hospital had some underutilized land, which they were interested in developing primarily as housing for low-income seniors and people experiencing homelessness. They approached Comunilife, and, with a $400,000 predevelopment loan from BlueHub, the project began to take shape.
As Michael O’Donnell, Executive Vice President and Chief Operating Officer at Comunilife explains, “For a long time we have tried to mix affordable and supportive housing in most of our developments. This new project will have 68 units for frail elderly and another 14 units in which seniors can age in place. We will have onsite providers for some services; we will invite providers in to supply some services; and we will connect residents with outside providers for some services.” Many of those outside services will come from St. Barnabas. Illyse Kaplan, Comunilife Vice President for Development and Communications, elaborates. “St. Barnabas has been expanding their scope with a holistic approach to healthcare. They provide community members with everything they need to be healthy — not just medicine, but exercise opportunities, nutritional education and other support. The residents of our building will have access to that.”