Published December 1, 2020
Groton — The Mystic River Homes Congregate will receive upgrades intended to help keep the low- to moderate-income housing complex in Noank in good repair for the next two decades.
Mystic River Homes, a nonprofit that owns two housing complexes in Noank, was awarded a $1.5 million Community Development Block Grant, along with a $500,000 Housing Tax Credit Contribution through the state, to fund the improvements to the 51-unit building.
Mystic River Homes’ mission is to provide housing, along with other related services, to elderly and people with disabilities who are of low to moderate income. The nonprofit owns The Congregate, a three-story building constructed in 1992, along with The Cottages, which comprises 46 “garden style apartments” in four one-floor buildings constructed in 1979, according to a news release.
The grants will fund improvements to The Congregate, including installation of a new elevator, new air conditioners and handrails, a portico to provide shelter from the weather when people drive in, and a proposed outdoor seating area so residents of the housing complex can safely enjoy fresh air and sunshine, said Missy Evans, president of the nonprofit’s board of directors.
The renovations are expected to continue through 2021, she said.
The upgrades to The Congregate follows previous grants — a $800,000 CDBG grant and a $500,000 HTCC grant — to bring The Cottages up to date and renovate the kitchens, bathrooms and entryways, Evans said.
Groton Economic and Community Development Manager Paige Bronk said the upgrades to The Congregate are an evolution from the first project. After the first project, it became evident that Mystic River Homes had additional needs at The Congregate.
The town participates in the state’s CDBG program, in which the state reallocates federal funding to communities with under 50,000 people, and partnered with Mystic River Homes on the proposal, Bronk said.
The complexes meet a need for low-income housing for the elderly, particularly as more people are entering this demographic, Evans said. Both housing complexes have a waiting list.
“By providing a comfortable home for these elderly and handicapped folks, then we are meeting the needs of our community,” she said. “We’re providing a safe place for them to live.”
Individuals who meet the criteria to live in the housing complexes pay a percentage of their rent, while the U.S. Department of Agriculture subsidizes the rest for The Cottages, and the state Department of Public Health subsidizes the rest of the rent for The Congregate, Evans said. Elderly Housing Management runs both housing complexes.
Grants from the state and federal government help the nonprofit continue to do its upkeep on the buildings, Evans said.
The nonprofit also seeks donations to help provide more opportunities for residents, from paying for taxis to take people shopping to recreational classes, she said. Community businesses and organizations also help pitch in, such as the Rotary Club supporting an annual wellness clinic, and businesses donating goods and supplies for activities.