PAWTUCKET, RI (May 18, 2012) -- Senator Sheldon Whitehouse and local community leaders were on hand today for the groundbreaking of the Arc of Blackstone Valley’s (BVC) Belmont Commons, a 10 unit housing development for adults with disabilities.
Primarily funded through the HUD Section 811 Supportive Housing for Persons with Disabilities Program, the development includes five one-bedroom and five two-bedroom units. Located at 115 Manton St., the homes are earmarked for low-income individuals with disabilities and have been carefully designed with a program of supportive services to provide maximum benefit to the residents.
“It’s important for individuals with disabilities to have access to safe and affordable housing,” said U.S. Senator Sheldon Whitehouse. “The new units at Belmont Commons will give these Rhode Islanders a place to call home, and provide vital services to help them live more independently.”
Belmont Commons helps address the acute shortage of housing for adults with disabilities. According to the 2000 census, Rhode Island has the highest disability rates among all of the New England states. Disabled persons represent 26.5 percent of the population in Pawtucket, the fourth highest the state.
“With the growing need for affordable housing for persons with intellectual and developmental disabilities, the current supply in the City of Pawtucket is severely inadequate,” said Pawtucket Mayor Donald Grebien. “Ten additional units of supportive, accessible housing directly addresses the housing needs and goals stated in the City and State’s Comprehensive Plan.”
The homes have been designed to be completely handicap accessible. Features include blinking doorbells which can be activated to aid the hearing impaired, optional automatic doors that can be opened remotely from anywhere in the home and wheelchair-height front-door peepholes.
“HUD is proud to be a part of this partnership effort to end homelessness here in Rhode Island,” said Nancy Smith Greer, Providence Field Office Director, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). “This project is proof that when agencies use federal resources to leverage local investment, the result is permanent housing and supportive services that build a better quality of life for residents. Congratulations to the Pawtucket residents who will be able to call this place their home.”
“The Department of Behavioral Healthcare, Developmental Disabilities and Hospitals (BHDDH) is pleased to provide some of the funding for this important project through our Thresholds Program,” says its director Craig Stenning. “Through this program, we have been able to create over 150 units of transitional or permanent housing. Some of these initiatives have focused on homeless veterans, families with disabled individuals and women.”
In addition to the HUD 811 funding, the project used several state and federal funding sources, including Building Homes Rhode Island, the Thresholds program through BHDDH, the City of Pawtucket HOME Funds, the Rhode Island Housing Land Bank and a LISC Predevelopment Grant.
"The Building Homes Rhode Island investment was a critical resource to the development and long-term affordability of these 10 new homes for low-income persons with disabilities," said Jeanne Cola, Chair of the Office of Housing and Community Development/Housing Resources Commission and Executive Director, Rhode Island LISC. "I am pleased this project will support the State's plan to address strategies to prevent and end homelessness in Rhode Island."
“This is the type of important collaboration among federal, state and local agencies that should continue into the future. They are proven to be successful,” said Richard Godfrey, Executive Director of Rhode Island Housing. “Homes like these are a key element of an overall plan to end homelessness and ensure that all families and individuals have a stable home that they can afford.”
Belmont Commons, which is expected to be completed in early 2013, is the first of two projects that will transform vacant lots and the BVC's current Manton Street location into 30 one-and two-bedroom apartments for seniors and the disabled. The second project, Keats Gardens will begin construction this fall and is a HUD Section 202 development featuring 19 one-bedroom and one two-bedroom homes.
Belmont Commons was designed by architects Saccoccio & Associates, Inc. in Cranston and is being built by New England Construction. The project is Energy Star Compliant and contains Green Building elements.
“Housing is one of the most critical issues adults with disabilities face,” said Jack Padien, CEO of the Arc of Blackstone Valley. “The housing stock and supportive services that Belmont Commons will offer are tailored to their success and their ability to live stable and productive lives. It is the best investment we can make in serving this very vulnerable population.”
The Arc of Blackstone Valley, created in 1955, is the principle service organization for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities in the Blackstone Valley area. The agency currently employs approximately 300 individuals and serves close to 500 adults including residents of the Arc's properties and consumers of its supportive services.
Primary services provided by the Arc to its consumers and families include residential and family services, as well as advocacy, vocational, housing and recreational programs. These services are provided through more than 25 programs, both residential and day, that operate throughout the organization's service area. These operations include three day program locations and seven community-based retail businesses that employ individuals with disabilities. For more information, visit www.bvcriarc.org.
Belmont Commons is being developed by the Blackstone Valley Development Corporation, the Real Estate Development arm of the Arc of Blackstone Valley.
For more information visit www.thebvdc.org.