Eddie Rosa found that life was better outside of The W


Sometimes, getting older can have a happy ending. Consider Eddie Rosa, who lost his apartment in 2021 following the death of his wife.

The 63-year-old former city employee landed at Valley Lodge, a 110-bed transitional shelter on the West Side where — outside a stint at a nursing home due to health issues — Rosa stayed for a year before moving to more permanent housing.

He initially considered going to The W Assisted Living at Riverdale Home for Adults. He visited, noticing several residents sitting outside.

“That’s a horrible place,” Rosa told The Riverdale Press in April. “It wasn’t happening.”

Case workers instead took Rosa one block north to Van Cortlandt Green, which offers housing for low-income senior citizens. The Green’s 85 studio units are on the small side — about 415 square feet — but the building is clean and safe, said Rosa, who moved into the building last July. He signed a lease in March.

“It’s a very nice complex,” he said.

Van Cortlandt Green is one of 17 affordable senior housing facilities in New York City and Long Island that are owned and operated by the nonprofit Selfhelp. The buildings house more than 1,500 low- and moderate-income residents in apartments, while also providing social services.

Van Cortlandt Green, at 6469 Broadway, has a social worker on-site that is expected to “work with older residents so they can live with independence and dignity out of institutions,” said Mohini Mishra, vice president of Selfhelp Community Services.

All of Selfhelp’s 17 buildings have income requirements. Rents are based on income, and residents can use any form of payment, including rental vouchers, a pension, and Supplemental Security Income to make the rent, the spokeswoman said.

There’s also activities for tenants. Van Cortlandt Green offers weekly movies and a nutritionist that visits on Mondays, Rosa said. Other social services include educational and recreational programming, physical activities, as well as volunteer opportunities. 

There are big differences between an assisted living facility and senior housing like the Green, said Karen Jorgensen, director of Valley Lodge. Adult homes like The W are licensed by the state health department, have rules and regulations they must abide by, and typically take in people with more physical problems. By comparison, senior housing caters to people 62 and older who can live independently for the most part.

Residents of senior housing can also “age in place,” Jorgensen said.

If tenants of the Green can no longer take care of themselves, the on-site social worker will provide them with home care and housekeeping referrals that will allow residents to remain in their own home, Selfhelp’s Mishra said.

Whenever the Van Cortlandt Green has an opening, Valley Lodge scrambles to nominate someone and fill it, Jorgensen said.

“It’s a really nice place,” she said.

Rosa passed away right before Memorial Day, Jorgensen said. He suffered from diabetes complications, including neuropathy, and had heart issues. It’s unclear what caused his passing.

The gregarious Rosa was extremely popular at the Green, Jorgensen said.

“He was very happy there,” she said.