Making a Difference

Dedicated to its mission, firm develops comfortable affordable housing for seniors and limited-income families

With  more  than  50  years  of  combined  experience  in  affordable  housing Connecticut-based  Real  Estate  Diagnostics.  Inc.  is  a  small  firm  that  has  found success in an ever-evolving field rife with challenges.

“Affordable  housing  is  a  vocation  and  an  avocation.”  says  Harvey  Edelstein. President  of  Real  Estate  Diagnostics.  “It  is  what  we  do  and  what  I  do.  and  it  has been a passion, interest and recognized need on my part for a very long time.”

REDI Real Estate Diagnostics, Guilford CT

Dedicated to its mission, firm develops comfortable affordable housing for senior and limited-income families

Real  Estate  Diagnostics,  Inc.  offers  consulting  on  high-quality  affordable housing developments. Edelstein and Senior Director of Operations Maureen Corley have lent their expertise to more than 7.500 building sites and have developed and financed more than 1,000 units of quality affordable and market rate housing units. The firm’s efforts benefit several populations, including inner-city residents, senior citizens, military veterans and disabled individuals.

Connecticut has among the fastest-growing senior population in the United States. One of Real Estate Diagnostic’s current efforts. Woodland Springs, will partially replace a senior community called Avery Park that is no longer viable housing for senior residents.

“Avery Park has three levels—three sections all spread on a hill,” Corley says.“Winter has its ice problems, and you had elderly people navigating with walkers in this treacherous areas. The housing authority built with what it had at the time, and now. they needed something better. It became our mission to replace it with Woodland Springs. It was too expensive to redo the units on-site, so we decided on a complete redesign.”

The new buildings will be more accessible, with a mix of cottage-style garden apartments and two large, two-story community-style buildings. The design encourages independence, ageing in place and dignity for residents.

“Some people prefer the cottage style [of unit).* Corley says. “It is mixed-income, and you have people downsizing from their own homes. Some of the residents don’t necessarily want a two-floor building atmosphere. They want to feel independent and have their own space. They have their own entrances and often feel more secure.”

The interiors are also a marked improvement from the mold and accessibility issues found at Avery Park.

“Every unit is designed for people to age in place.” Edelstein says. “They are ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act) compliant. You can roll into your home, if you have a wheelchair or a walker, and if somebody wants to visit you, they will find it accessible, too. There are no bathtubs—only walk-in, sit-down showers. There is a space and hookup for stackable front-loading washers and dryers. Residents often put in their own washers and dryers, even though we have laundry rooms in the larger community buildings.”

Work on Woodland Springs is well under way, and Real Estate Diagnostics. Inc. expects the project to be finished in 2017. Once complete, it will offer residents a comfortable and safe place to call home.

“In these rural settings, people can sit outside on the back porch,” Corley says. “You have privacy but also neighbors, so there is less isolation. It took some residents time to adjust to the larger building model, but in the end, they find this design preferable.”

The developments the firm takes on are often quite diverse, and Edelstein and Corley have become skilled at adapting to new challenges.

“When I first started out. I thought I was building housing for single women and heads of households, because that’s the way it was in urban centers.” Edelstein says. “Now, it seems like we’re doing (senior housing) because the need is so great. We are asked to participate in many projects and have been introduced around. Word eventually spreads, and we have built a good reputation.”

The company often looks for partnerships with businesses and organizations that have similar goals. One of these partnerships, with a nonprofit called the Chrysalis Center, Inc. will result in housing for homeless military veterans in Stafford, Connecticut.

This is an issue particularly close to Edelstein’s heart, as he is a veteran of the Vietnam War.

“There are stories around town of people camping out (on streets and in parks), and some of them are vets,” he says. “We’re looking into a program called Housing First. It’s fairly new, and it gives people a place to live. They do not pay rent, and there is support for them, whether it is to treat drug withdrawals or help them adapt to living off the streets. This is an approach that really works.”

Overall, the team at Real Estate Diagnostics, looking forward to seeing a completed product at Woodland Springs, and the firm foresees more affordable senior housing communities in the pipeline in the years to come.

“We are looking to put up another project in Stafford,” Edelstein says. “It is also the beginning of phase II for Woodland Springs this year. There are many opportunities, and we keep them close together. Chrysalis and Housing First (were) practically an accident, but it is something I support heavily. It fits our philosophy and our desire to make a difference in the world of affordable housing.”