Description & History

It was a dream come true for Ernesto Martinez when in 1981 the U.S. Housing and Urban Development agency notified him that his idea for a privately managed residence for East Harlem seniors would be funded.

A native of Puerto Rico, Martinez at age 70, submitted a proposal detailing the need for what is now Casabe Houses, a residence where the quality of life for senior citizens age 62 and older is strongly emphasized.

Casabe Houses' 136 residents live in a safe haven of independent, affordable apartments with services that meet the needs of the special needs of its elderly population.

Contributing to the benefits of living in a supportive group environment of fellow senior citizens, the facility provides quality management and has an active tenants association.

The wheel-chair accessible residence offers spacious living quarters, affordable rent based on individual income, 24 hour security, a full time social worker and an attentive live-in superintendent.

Past residents of the 125-apartment residence include Liza Levine.

Affectionately known a "Ma Ma", Liza lived comfortably in Casabe Houses until she was 104 years old and is among the many residents who have benefited, and who continue to benefit, from the residence's quality services.

Among Casabe Houses' services is the individual assistance with senior benefit entitlements provided by the on-site social worker.

Experienced guidance concerning Social Security, Medicaid, Medicare, Food Stamps, and other services of specific concern to residents is provided.

As needed, the social worker also arranges medical appointments on behalf of residents.

Other benefits for residents include a lunch program sponsored by East Harlem for Human Services (EHCHS).

While not a service directly provided by Casabe itself, Casabe and community residents benefit from the lunch program's location because it is operated within the residence and is open to other senior community residents.

In addition, Casabe offers a host of cultural and social activities such as bingo, holiday celebrations, a monthly social gathering, trips to State parks, theatre performances, computer literacy and much more.

A very active Board of Directors oversees all operations, ensuring that that residence exceeds all City, State and Federal regulations.

All residents of Casabe Houses are on some form of public benefit.

The majority (90%) receive Social Security, 35% receive both Social Security and SSI, and 14% receive only SSI, 27% receive Social Security and a pension and one individual receives Social Security and is employed.

Sixty nine percent are above the age of 70, 35% are above the age of 80 and 12% are above 85.

Seven residents are under 65 but have disabilities.

Casabe's goal is not simply to provide the supports needed for our seniors to age in place but to enrich their quality of life through health, wellness, cultural and educational opportunities.

We seek to encourage family involvement and intergenerational programming where youth can learn about the rapidly disappearing culture in a shifting sands community.

About the organization

Casabe Houses For The Elderly

Lillian Lebron
Project Leader
(212) 410-5467
Maria Muniz
Program Coordinator
(212) 410-6030