With a $4 million grant of federal economic stimulus money, Kivel Campus of Care plans to modernize and increase the energy efficiency of 256 independent-living apartments within the next year.

The grant comes from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development as part of the Green Retrofit Program for Multifamily Housing under the American Recovery and Reimbursement Act of 2009, said Ira Shulman, Kivel president and CEO.

"This is a significant grant for any community," Shulman told Jewish News. Only 218 such grants have been awarded from among more than 20,000 potential applicants, he added.

More important, he said, is that the planned renovations to the Kivel Manor buildings, which are 30 to 40 years old, show Kivel's continued commitment to providing a Jewish senior living campus at its historic Phoenix location at 3020 N. 36th St., despite the closure of its skilled-nursing facility in April 2008.

"I think we'll keep this campus in order to serve the people who need it," Shulman said. "It's in a central part of town, and we think it's still a valuable service to the Jewish community."

The grant program's goal is to retrofit older multifamily properties with energy-efficient appliances, materials and systems, with an eye toward reducing energy costs and water consumption, assuring indoor air quality and creating jobs for industries that produce the energy-efficient products.

The grant will pay for upgrades and modernizations - including replacing the heating and air-conditioning systems, roofs, windows, plumbing fixtures, cabinets, flooring and lighting - in the apartments and common areas, Shulman said.

"All the new items will be energy efficient, made from recycled materials, certified 'green,' and will be environmentally friendly," he said.

Kivel will relocate residents while work is being done on their respective apartments, he said, adding that he expected the disruption to be minimal.

"We think it will displace residents one or two nights (apiece)," he said.

He expected the work to begin within a couple of months and to be completed by about May 2011.

"The project will probably go out for bid in late April," Shulman told Jewish News. "Once the bids are done, we submit them back to HUD, and a formal closing is expected within two to three weeks after our submittal."

He pointed out that over the past nine years, Kivel has received $7 million in federal grants, including this green grant. In 2004, Kivel received $3.54 million from HUD to convert 30 independent-living units into assisted-living units. That work was completed in March 2006.

Shulman stressed that the federal grants could not be used to provide additional staffing or services at Kivel's dental and eye clinic, through its food bank or in its congregant meal program, or to fund more activities and social events. He said that continued support of the community is essential for Kivel to maintain its "history of quality care and services in the Jewish tradition."

Since Kivel closed its nursing home in 2008, the agency has been fighting the perception that the campus is closed, even though it has continued to provide assisted-living and independent-living apartments for seniors.

Just last month, in announcing that support for Kivel through the Arizona "working poor" tax credit had ticked up to $113,000 in 2009, Shulman told Jewish News that those results show "we've done a good job of explaining that Kivel is alive and still takes care of more than 250 residents and that there is a future."

In addition to maintaining its central location in Phoenix, Shulman told Jewish News this week that Kivel's board is about to embark on a strategic planning process that will likely add more locations around the Valley.

"We're looking in either North Phoenix or North Scottsdale, but it's not inconceivable that we'd have smaller locations farther west or south," he said. "We're thinking about the possibility of having smaller assisted-living homes versus the large center type of facility. We think there's a need for the Jewish community to have many options."

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