Tower One receives grant for new facility

Tower One, part of New Haven’s nonprofit Tower One/Tower East retirement community, will receive a federal grant worth more than $2.8 million, Rep. Rosa DeLauro recently announced.

The $2,843,444 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Assisted Living Conversion Program will fund the creation of a new assisted living facility. This is the third grant Tower One has received from the Assisted Living Conversion Program, or ALCP.

The Assisted Living Conversion Program was launched in 2000 to fund the conversion of existing structures into assisted living facilities. The Department of Housing and Urban Development Web site reports that approximately $93 million in grants are available this year. On Nov. 4, the department announced that it was awarding $54.3 million to be divided among 12 states. Connecticut received more than $9 million, the second-largest award of any of the 12 states.

“It is designed to address elderly aging in place issues,” Julie Fagan, the field office director of the Department of Housing and Urban Development’s Hartford office, said in an e-mail. “The ALCP grant pays only for the hard costs of conversion.”

Tower One/Tower East is already providing assisted living services to many of its more than 400 residents, said Dorothy Giannini-Meyers, the president of Tower One/Tower East.

“There is a large demand for affordable assisted living,” Giannini-Meyers said.

Tower One will use the grant to partially fund an $11 million project, Giannini-Meyers said. The project, expected to take 18 to 24 months, includes a new, more accessible entrance, a renovated dining room, offices for social workers and doctors, and six floors of converted assisted living apartments.

Giannini-Meyers said rooms on the six floors would be essentially “gutted out to the wall” to adapt them to their new purpose. Bathrooms, doorways and kitchens will be made wheelchair accessible and there will be new common rooms for socializing.

Tower One is adjusting its environment to fit the needs of its residents, Giannini-Meyers said. These needs have changed significantly since the erection of the building in 1971.

“Tower One was built more than 30 years ago. It’s configured like a building made 30 years ago,” Giannini-Meyers said. “They didn’t think people in their 90s or 100s would be living here. It was built for people in their 60s or 70s. Their needs change.”

This ALCP grant is not the first Tower One has received. In November 2001 and December 2000, it received a total of $6,685,459 from the program to make 44 new units, install hand rails in hallways, and improve the wheelchair accessibility of the building.

“Three grants in a row is unique to the program,” Fagan said.

Congresswoman DeLauro and her staff aided Tower One in seeking the funds.

“We’ve been working with Tower One for years,” said Ashley Westbrook, DeLauro’s communications director.

Westbrook said that every June, DeLauro holds a federal funding forum and brings together over 100 town officials and community organizations with officials from federal departments. The purpose, Westbrook said, is to aid these groups in understanding what types of grants are available and how to apply for them.

“We do work with lots of senior housing, schools, to try to get them funds,” Westbrook said. “It runs the gamut.”

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