Terrace now offers ‘smoke-free’ buildings  Smoke free plaque

When the rehab work at Hudson Terrace Apartments is completed in the spring of 2011, all 13 buildings will be energy efficient thanks to new windows, siding and heating systems, and all 168 apartments will have new paint, flooring, bathrooms and appliances.

From worn and outdated, the renovated complex is now an attractive and comfortable place for residents to call home, all without an increase in rent. Twelve buildings have already undergone this transformation and construction is under way and on schedule for the last one to be completed in April.

But for the first time, Hudson Terrace is offering an additional amenity … two buildings have been designated “non-smoking”.

This means that smoking is not permitted anywhere inside, including individual apartments.

According to Charlie Allen from Evergreen Partners, which purchased the property last year, the intent is to create options for individuals and families who are health conscious or want a smoke-free lifestyle.

“Residents in those buildings are completely protected from secondhand smoke,” he said. “There are even signs letting people know that the ‘no smoking zone’ extends out 50 feet from the buildings.”

Nusrat Sultana and her mother Kaniz Fatema have shared an apartment at Hudson Terrace for five years. About a year ago, when management surveyed residents before the rehab began, they responded that they would prefer to live in a smoke-free building. In November, they got their wish.

“Before, cigarette smoke would come into our apartment from next door or from outside,” she explained. “Now there is no smell and it’s much healthier. I would prefer that all the buildings were smoke-free because it would be healthier for everyone, especially the children.”

The U.S. Surgeon General has warned that there is no safe level of exposure to secondhand smoke. Children exposed to secondhand smoke are at an increased risk for sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), acute respiratory infections, ear problems, and more severe asthma.

Exposure of adults to secondhand smoke has immediate adverse effects on the cardiovascular system and causes coronary heart disease and lung cancer.

“We’re very pleased that Hudson Terrace is offering a smoke-free option,” said Karen dePeyster, program director of Rip Van Winkle Tobacco-Free Action. “In multi-unit housing cigarette smoke can drift from one apartment to another. It’s not just an annoyance … it’s a health risk, especially for children, the elderly and people with chronic illness or medical problems.”

Hudson Terrace is not the first affordable housing site in the area to offer a smoke-free option. At Crosswinds, which opened in 2009, seven of nine buildings are non-smoking. Bruce Levine, President of 3d Development, said that families with young children are especially pleased with the opportunity to live in a smoke-free building.

“There are many children and adults with asthma and allergies. It’s so important for everyone to be breathing clean, unpolluted air. We are planning to build senior housing in Valatie and that building will be entirely smoke free.”

DePeyster adds that smoke-free housing has benefits for property owners too. “Smoke-free housing is safer and easier to maintain,” she explains. “When a regular smoker moves, it can be triple the usual cost to prepare the apartment for the next tenant because smoke residue permeates everything, making it harder to clean, and there may be other damage, such as burns to floors, counters and other surfaces. Smoke-free is really a smart way for owners to protect their investment.”

Evergreen Partners has developed affordable workforce and senior housing in ten states using Smart Growth principles: building or renovating housing in service-center communities, near neighbors and recreation, and close to amenities and transportation alternatives. Tobacco-Free Action is a program of the Healthcare Consortium working in Columbia & Greene Counties to reduce smoking rates and to decrease exposure to secondhand smoke.