Press Release: May 14, 2014

Pleasantville NY – At A-HOME’s spring gala Board of Director’s co-President Patrick Brennan announced the good news that Debbie Haglund has accepted the position of Executive Director.

A 16 year employee of A-HOME, Ms. Haglund has been deeply involved in all aspects of the organization from case management to housing development. In 2012 she took on the task of Interim Executive Director and has successfully led A-HOME through the transition in leadership and the economic downturn.

Co-President Andy Chintz was at the gala and is looking forward to new opportunities for A-HOME, “I was very pleased with the turn-out of core supporters for our 2014 annual Gala event. It provided a perfect venue to update the community on the stabilized financial and operational footing of the organization and to announce that Debbie Haglund has accepted the responsibilities to be the permanent Executive Director. I am excited about A-HOME’s current position and the opportunities that lie ahead to continue its mission.”

Ms. Haglund also sees the present as a time of opportunity “We are responding to requests from communities who are questioning what they need to do to incorporate fair and affordable housing into their towns. We are investigating new avenues of revenue including managing affordable housing properties.” She continued, “We are fully committed to being A-HOME, the organization that brought affordable housing for low-income older adults, single parent families and individuals with disabilities to northern Westchester. And we are committed to pursuing new opportunities, expanding our properties, creatively moving into the future and growing communities for tomorrow.”

Former board president Peter Russell and Admissions Committee member Lynn Russell were impressed by the very positive crowd reaction “We saw the room of A-HOME supporters at the recent Gala react immediately with applause and delight when Debbie Haglund’s name was announced as the new Executive Director. No doubt in my mind that warm welcome reflects the wide recognition of how skillfully Debbie has been leading the organization in concert with her manager colleagues for several years, how thoroughly she has mastered the complexities of affordable housing operations and how deeply she cares about A-HOME residents. ”


Journal News Pleasant Ave

Journal News – September, 2013

A deteriorating two-story home in Pleasantville is getting a major makeover.

Renovations are taking place at 55 Pleasant Ave., Pleasantville. It is an ‘affordable housing’ project of A-Home and Westchester County that features a 3-bedroom home and 1-bedroom rental apartment.

By Barbara Livingston Nackman

A deteriorating two-story home in Pleasantville is getting a major makeover.

The virtually newhome will be sold for $280,000 by the end of the year to a buyer by lottery who meets the state’s low-income requirements.

The property at 55 Pleasant Ave. had been used by the New York State Department of Transportation as an engineering office for years because of its proximity to the well-traveled Saw Mill River Parkway. Of late the agency had left it vacant.

In early 2013 it was conveyed to Westchester County to be developed by A-Home, a 25-year-old organization that develops, rehabilitates and manages affordable housing options in northern Westchester. The group worked with Westchester County to finance the renovations and make updates to the 3-bedroom home, adding a 1-bedroom rental accessory apartment.

“It was a full gut renovation,” said Debbie Haglund, interim executive director at A-Home, saying that it has new heating, plumbing and electrical systems along with upgraded windows. This is its second venture to foster home ownership, rather than previous projects that offer rental housing to clients.

“We are excited to be doing this,” she said in a phone interview. “We can’t wait for a family to have this home.”

The house is slated for a first-time homebuyer with income requirements based on median income measures. The end buyer will be determined by lottery from a list of approved applicants, county officials explained. The apartment is slated to rent for $1,257 a month giving the new owner an income boost. Also, once sold the house will return to local tax rolls.

This property will go toward the 750 affordable housing units that are required to be built in Westchester County as part of a 2009 settlement of a federal lawsuit.

And the county hopes to rehab more houses for new families.

“We are scouring the foreclosure market and seeing what is out there for us to put in the works,” said Westchester County Planning Department Deputy Commissioner Norma Drummond. A previous property at 39 Mill River Road in Chappaqua was converted into a 3-family house, she said. Capurro Contracting Inc. of Cortlandt is doing the work.

The Housing Action Council in Tarrytown is handling the applicant list and the marketing of the home. Calls to that office were not returned by press time.

Westchester County maintains information on its website to help people learn more about available affordable housing options at homes.westchestergov.com/

Twitter: @barbaranackman

Lewisboro Ledger – April 3, 2014

Siegels recycle home to the last plank 

By Reece Alvarez

Surrounded by friends and neighbors, Katonah residents Lynn and Rob Siegel watched with a sense of satisfaction as their home on Jay Street burned to the ground on Saturday morning, March 29. It was the final of a series of donations to come from the Siegels’ former home that benefited several local communities, the volunteer Katonah Fire Department (KFD) in particular.

Like the Giving Tree, the Siegels’ home on Jay Street gave everything it could. The interior of the home was donated to A-Home, a not-for-profit corporation based in Pleasantville that rehabilitates, builds and manages 18 affordable rental housing properties in northern Westchester for older adults, disabled individuals and single-parent families who, because of age, disability, or family status, cannot afford market rates.

“Originally they had donated the whole home, but that was a task that was too big for anybody,” said Gerry Granelli, property manager for A-Home. “Usually we pick up a piece of furniture or a room, but this was substantial — a great find for us and not a lot went to waste.”

The interior of the home was stripped of all useful items that could be reused, including household items, appliances, the boiler, oil tanks, cabinets, doors, and additional items donated to church groups and individuals, Mr. Siegel said.

In the end, only the cavernous shell of the home was left, but that was enough to provide a month’s worth of fire training for several local departments, especially Katonah.

Nothing to waste

Throughout March, the KFD held four training exercises, including two that drew nearly 100 firefighters from six departments — Bedford, Bedford Hills, South Salem, Goldens Bridge, Mt. Kisco, and Katonah. On Saturday, March 29, the departments encircled the home in a controlled scenario, simulating an engulfed structure fire and protecting surrounding property as the home was devoured in a little more than an hour.

Exercises throughout the month included search-and-rescue drills, as well as various exercises involving real fires in a full-sized home — a rare opportunity for the local volunteer departments.

“It doesn’t happen that much,” said KFD Chief David Corsino. “In the 11 years I’ve been with the Katonah Fire Department, this is probably the third.”

The event also provided valuable cross-department training for the multiple fire units, said Tom Connolly, a KFD volunteer.

“We usually don’t get to work with them often,” he said. “It improved relationships, even just getting to know them.”

New home for new age

Although the Siegels and their three children had lived in the donated home since 2010, watching the home burn was a moment for reflection rather than nostalgia, Mr. Siegel said.

“By the time they were ready to light it, we had come to the place where we thought it was so great that we had done so much good with it,” he said. “In the end, instead of being able to benefit one family, we were able to benefit hundreds.”

Guests invited to watch the final donation viewed the blaze from a knoll on the Siegels’ property that supports their new home — a unique stone structure strikingly different from its surroundings yet unobtrusively a part of it.Mr. Siegel, principal of the Manhattan-based architectural firm Robert Siegel Architects, designed the home in the style of his firm, featuring contemporary design and sustainable building practices.

“We specialize in unique buildings and, in particular, ones that relate to the specific place where they are located. We design buildings that are of our time — buildings that are conceived, designed and executed for the future, not for a romantic notion of the past,” he said. “We use materials, spaces and forms that anchor them to their site.”

The simple L-shaped home features stone walls of locally sourced stone. The energy-efficient architecture takes advantage of the abundant use of stone and concrete flooring to greatly moderate temperature fluctuations throughout the seasons — putting the home on track for a LEED rating and Energy Star certification, Mr. Siegel said.

With nothing but the chimney of their old home left standing (eventually to be removed), the Siegels said they felt privileged to have worked and gotten to know all the different agencies involved — A-Home, KFD, and surrounding fire departments — that came together to benefit one another.

“When we got through this project, it was something unexpected for us — an unexpected pleasure to see how many people do things for someone they don’t know just because it is the right thing to,” Mr. Siegel said. “It was so great to get an insight into what our community volunteers do with their lives. The level of volunteerism is remarkably high and is truly an inspiration.”