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Low-income housing need not be bland.

Architectural distinction in low-income housing?

As designers of thousands of units for low-income people, we believe it's not out of the question.

In the old days, when people talked about low-income housing, they meant a rectangular box, with holes punched in it for windows. That's not acceptable any longer. Just giving low-income people a place to live in is not the answer. They deserve housing with dignity.

Among some of the touches SLCE adds to low-income housing are: Setting aside areas for tenant gardens, creating aesthetically pleasing lobbies that residents can use for social gatherings, and locating the laundry room on an exterior wall, with windows, where parents can keep an eye on children in the adjoining outdoor play area.

The firm is currently designing several developments in the five boroughs of New York City with funds from a variety of governmental agencies.

These programs are intended to create decent apartments for previously homeless New Yorkers and those at risk of becoming homeless.

Accordingly, our mandate is to provide housing that's as attractive as possible, given the city, state and federal cost constraints.

At 8 East 3rd Street in Manhattan, SLCE upgraded the Men's Shelter for Manhattan Bowery, a non-profit, social-services organization.

The Men's Shelter is a typical first step in getting the homeless off the street. The next step is to move these people into single-room-occupancy (SRO) apartments, like the ones we renovated at 249 Classon Avenue in Brooklyn, for Catholic Charities.

The project, funded by the New York City Department of Housing Preservation and Development, will provide 78 apartments for people ready to move out of the shelters. Each SRO has its own kitchenette, closet and bathroom, and several include balconies.

There, the residents receive social counseling, and when they've bettered themselves, they move into 'permanent homeless' housing, which consists of two- or three-bedroom apartments, depending on family size.

At one such permanent, homeless-housing site in Brooklyn, SLCE is designing three 14-unit apartments. These buildings maintain the continuity of the surrounding neighborhood, and are people's final step from an SRO into a full apartment.

We've also placed landscaped play areas in the rear yards, and altered the color of the exterior brick to create the illusion of parapets and cornices. And, indoors, we've designed a community room, activity rooms for arts and crafts, and social care offices. In general, we're trying to answer the question -- What can you do for people who are getting on their feet, and deserving of a decent place to live? We believe the answer lies in affordable housing with a design that people are proud to call home.

Since its founding in 1941, Schuman Lichtenstein Claman and Efron has completed more than 700 commercial, residential, health-care, religious and educational facilities in the New York metropolitan region, various areas around this country, and overseas.
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Title Annotation:Architecture & Interior Design; dignified criteria for architectural design may be applied to low-income housing
Author:Efron, Albert
Publication:Real Estate Weekly
Date:Dec 16, 1992
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