Affordable housing for seniors up for vote at town meeting

Sep 28, 2018

A proposed eight-unit senior housing development could help make the lives of seniors living with mental illness a little bit easier.

The project, called the Mendes-Monteiro House, is being proposed by the Dartmouth Housing Authority and Partners in Housing, a nonprofit organization. Funding for the project will be up for vote at the October 16 Fall Town Meeting.

Connie Desbiens, the executive director of the Dartmouth Housing Authority, said it is the first development in Dartmouth specifically for this population.

“The elderly in this day and age suffer from so many more mental issues than those in the past,” Desbiens said. “Back in the day, those issues weren’t looked at as issues requiring special housing.”

She explained that conditions including depression, hoarding, isolation, and sundowning, which might have been ignored in the past, are now being recognized and addressed.

Four of the units would be fairly standard one bedroom apartments for tenants who are able to live largely independently.

The other four units would be congregate housing, meaning that the living spaces would be shared while each tenant would have their own bedroom. The congregate unit would also have a staff person present 24 hours a day to provide any necessary support.

All units would be handicap accessible.

Desbiens said the staff person could help residents with tasks like preparing meals, overseeing medication, and promoting social interactions.

“It’s peace of mind for family members to know their loved ones have a safe and sanitary place to live,” Desbiens said.

The project would allow seniors to remain in their community and age in place, and is another option for those who might previously have ended up living in a nursing home, whether they wanted to or not.

The house would be built at 2 Anderson Way on property that is owned by the Dartmouth Housing Authority.

The request up for vote at Town Meeting is for $500,000, or about 14 percent of the project’s total cost. The rest of the funding would come from state funding, grants, and other sources. Once the house is built, there will be no further cost to the town as the project will be self-sustaining.

The town funds for this project would come from the Community Preservation Fund, which comes from a 1.5 percent surcharge on property taxes and may only be used for affordable housing, open space, historical preservation, and outdoor recreation.

The developer for this project is Partners in Housing, a nonprofit organization that focuses on providing affordable housing for those in need. Units would be available for seniors receiving support from the state Department of Mental Health.