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Residents, management celebrate upgrades at York City apartment building


Minnie Jean Knight has a closet full of festive homemade wreaths in her fourth-floor apartment in York Towne House, a 200-unit apartment building at 200 N. Duke St. in York City.

She hung a leafy fall wreath, which she bought at the shopping center across the street, on her door next to a "Jesus saves" needlepoint and another needlepoint telling passers-by that smoking isn't allowed.

She couldn't resist buying the sparkly wreath to replace her less-flashy homemade one this season, she said.

Knight, 86, said she enjoys living at York Towne House, a privately owned Section 8 apartment building that houses disabled people and seniors.

The building's owner, Sencit York Co., has a close relationship with the York Housing Authority, whose employees manage the day-to-day operation of the building.

In addition to managing the building, YHA staff members provide social services support to tenants, said Craig Zumbrun, executive director.

"As an agency, we were there in the beginning to help arrange for the financing of the development and from time to time have played larger roles in budgeting and finance," Zumbrun said.

On Oct. 22, the building's residents and the Housing Authority will hold a catered luncheon to celebrate the building's 36 years in operation and to thank the building's owners for investing in improvements to the building and for their willingness to enhance residents' quality of life.

Why celebrate 36 years?

Building manager Valerie Pittman said there was too much going on last year, when she was new to her job, to celebrate the building's 35th anniversary, and she didn't want to wait for the 40th.

Besides, this year is special.

"We've had a whole lot of upgrades," she said.

York City Mayor Kim Bracey and other community leaders have been invited to the event.

Upgrades: Pittman said in an email that there have been a series of upgrades in the past few years: In 2012, a new rubber roof was installed; a new boiler system was installed and the ventilation system was upgraded in 2013. In 2014, both of the building's elevators were renovated and upgraded.

Upgrades to the building in the past year include Wi-Fi for all residents and a computer station with printing.

"We are partnering with Truth Tabernacle to provide computer class for residents," Pittman said.

Each participant will receive a computer.

More improvements include Spanish and English classes for residents, a dog park out back, a private office for the social coordinator in the community room, nine new washers and dryers in the laundry room and new kitchen cabinets and plumbing fixtures in 30 occupied rooms.

But it's the security upgrades that have many residents pleased.

Pittman said that people could previously come in off the street and hang out in the building's foyer, which disturbed residents.

Now, the entryway has been reconstructed to provide separate areas for those entering and leaving the building, and there is a secure seating area in the foyer for residents who are waiting for a bus.

More lighting has been added around the outside of the building, she said, and cameras have been installed around the building's exterior.

At home: In Knight's warm living room, attached to a kitchenette, lamps create a soft glow. A crocheting project sits by the TV, and family pictures decorate the walls.

She uses a walker for her "bad" left knee, she said, and has suffered several serious falls since moving to York Towne House. A bracelet and bedside device allow her to get help when she needs it.

She doesn't want to move to a nursing home until she absolutely must, she said, because she's still active.

Being in a safe, supportive environment helps her to stay in an independent living situation.

"Neighbors check on each other," she said.

She's befriended people of different races and ethnicities and enjoys being part of the community, she said.

Resident Mary Warner, 91, described her relationship with best friend Lois Immel. She remembers when the pair first met.

"Lois was in the laundry room and I introduced myself — that's what you gotta do when people are new," Warner said.

Now, the ladies are inseparable.

"We play cards together, we walk together," she said.