Smart Growth for Vernon, CT
HUD secretary comes to town with $1 million grant for senior housing

By Jason Rowe
Journal Inquirer
November 1, 2006

VERNON - Assisted living services at one senior citizens housing community will get a boost from a grant, personally delivered Tuesday by the head of the federal DEpartment of Housing and Urban Development.

Secretary Alphonso Jackson visited the Welles Country Village - a private, affordable housing complex for people over 60 - Tuesday morning to deliver the $1.06 million grant.

The grant will be used to convert five private, residential units to assisted living for frail residents, said Violet Andrews, the facility's administrator.

"Seniors can live alone, but some of them need a little help in their daily activities," Jackson said during his presentation. "A person's spirit and dignity depend on where they live and how healthy they are."

Prior to the presentation, Jackson toured Welles assisted-living facilities with U.S. Rep. Robert R. Simmons, R-2nd District.

During the tour, they met with Ada Lockwood, a 100-year-old resident who has lived at Welles since the facility opened in 1979.

During the meeting, the three exchanged playful jokes, with Lockwood commenting that at 100, she has all of her teeth and needs her glasses only to read. Jackson retorted that at age 60, he can barely see without wearing his glasses.

The Welles Country Village complex has nearly 100 units, 29 of which are designed for assisted-living services.

Those units were converted during the past couple of years using a $2.4 million federal grant awarded in 2002.

Under the assisted-living program, elderly and disabled residents live independently, but receive help with daily living activities such as bathing, eating, dressing, grooming, and home maintenance.

To make a unit acceptable for assisted living, doorways need to be widened to allow for easier wheelchair access, Andrews said.

There are plans to renovate the facility's entryway and a nearby large dining room, Andrews said.

Kitchen counters in the five units will be lowered and bathtubs will be replaced with shower stalls, which will be equipped to allow residents to sit down while bathing, Andrews said.

Judith Stone, president of the facility's board of directors, said she and her colleagues were thrilled to receive the federal money.

"It's a dream come true," Stone said. "We were very fortunate to get the first grant. We are just amazed at the number of people who are responding to the need."

©Journal Inquirer 2006