WASHINGTON, Nov. 16 - Senator Patrick Leahy (D), Senator Bernie Sanders (I) and Congressman Peter Welch (D) Wednesday announced that the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) has awarded Burlington's Cathedral Square Corporation a $4,885,200 grant to add 28 rent subsidized apartments for seniors to the 33 senior apartments now under construction.
According to Cathedral Square Executive Director Nancy Eldridge, the grant will be used to meet the huge demand for affordable senior housing at Thayer Commons, a joint development of market rate and affordable senior and family apartments spearheaded by Cathedral Square in Burlington's North End. Champlain Housing Trust, Housing Vermont and EF Farrell are partners in this new intergenerational neighborhood. A total of 113 apartments are now under construction.
In June, Leahy announced that he had secured a $433,000 special purpose grant for the $13.8 million Phase I development, at the Thayer Commons groundbreaking ceremony. Leahy is a senior member of the Senate Appropriations Committee and of its HUD subcommittee. That same month, Leahy, Sanders and Welch wrote to HUD Secretary Shaun Donovan in support of Cathedral Square's application to HUD's Section 202 program, which supports the development of Phase II of the project, which will add 28 additional affordable apartments for elderly persons -- 62 years of age or older -- with supportive services. The HUD 202 program provides capital to housing developers as a deferred loan for 40 years provided that the apartments are occupied by very low-income seniors for at least 40 years. In addition, residents of the apartments benefit from a HUD rental subsidy that enables the housing developer to offer lower rents.
In the letter to Donovan, Leahy, Sanders and Welch noted the ability of residents in these new apartments to participate in a first-in-the-nation supportive services program developed by Cathedral Square called "Support And Services at Home" (SASH).
"An element of the project that we find very innovative is that the residents will be able to voluntarily participate in the ‘Support And Services at Home' (SASH) program, a housing-based service model aimed at improving health outcomes for lower income seniors in multifamily housing settings," Leahy, Sanders and Welch said in their letter to Donovan. "In a pilot program at a nearby senior housing complex owned and managed by Cathedral Square Corporation, SASH successfully lowered hospital admissions and falls, and had other positive health outcomes for the residents."
The lawmakers also noted that the location of the new apartments - on North Avenue in Burlington where the Department of Motor Vehicles once operated - will offer seniors access to public transit, shopping, healthcare and other services.
During the June groundbreaking at Thayer Commons, Eldridge complimented the State of Vermont for making the property available for the development and noted the help of the City of Burlington, Burlington Mayor Bob Kiss, and Burlington's state legislators for their help in navigating the competitive bidding process for the property.
"This is the final piece of funding that we needed to use this site to its full potential to serve seniors who need affordable housing," said Eldridge. "The federal government plays a tremendous role in making quality, livable and affordable communities available to seniors. These new homes will provide seniors with more than an affordable place to live. Through our SASH program, seniors will receive supportive services at their home, avoiding costly hospitalizations and improving their quality of life."
According to Eldridge, the 28 apartments made possible by this grant complement 33 new affordable apartments for families and 33 other senior apartments now under construction at Thayer Commons. In addition, private developer Eric Farrell is renovating the former Thayer School for commercial use and constructing a new building with 47 market-rate apartments. The Phase II development by Cathedral Square will include an additional four apartments that will be affordable to seniors without income restrictions.
"Seniors often want to stay in the neighborhood that they are familiar with, regardless of what their income is. Our Cathedral Square communities are designed to serve a mix of incomes for this purpose," said Eldridge.