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People Inc. prepares to open Highland School Apartments in Tonawanda

One of the area's newest "integrated" housing projects for both disabled and low-income residents is now taking tenant applications as its owner prepares to open the complex in the spring.

People Inc. is finishing its conversion of the former Highland Elementary School in the City of Tonawanda into the new Highland School Apartments, with 38 affordable apartments in a century-old building. The nonprofit said last week that it is accepting applications through March 6 for spring and summer "move-in," with the complex slated to formally open in May.

Applications are available at

The Amherst-based social services agency spent $10 million to convert the 1920s-era former school, which closed in 2009 and was acquired by People Inc. at an auction two years later. Designed by Carmina Wood Morris PC, the adaptive reuse project includes $4.6 million in loans and low-income tax credit investments from First Niagara Bank, now KeyBank, as well as a $182,000 Federal Home Loan Bank of New York grant, $1.9 million from the Homeless Housing and Assistance Corp., $1.4 million from the state Office for People with Developmental Disabilities and $76,000 from the New York State Energy Research and Development Agency.

The new two-story complex at 105 Highland Ave. includes 35 one-bedroom and three two-bedroom apartments that are "handicap-adaptable" and include kitchen appliances. The building also includes a community room with Wi-Fi, laundry facilities, in-unit storage, safety features and a 24-hour, on-call emergency service.

The new Highland School Apartments will have 35 one-bedroom and three two-bedroom apartments.

Fifteen units are designated for individuals with developmental disabilities and traumatic brain injuries. The rest are income-eligible apartments, open to anyone earning between $23,000 and $41,000 per year. The income limits, which are based on federal data, are subject to change. Monthly rents will range from $450 to $675.

This is People Inc.'s first affordable housing project that is not wholly dedicated to seniors or disabled individuals, but its 125th housing project overall. Founded in 1970, the organization serves more than 12,500 people with special needs throughout the Buffalo and Rochester regions.

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