As the nation’s oldest Community Action Agency, The Community Renewal Team has been preparing our community to meet life’s challenges since our founding in 1963. We’ve built on the foundation our organizers laid to become Connecticut’s largest CAA, known throughout the Greater Hartford area for providing services to thousands in need of a helping hand each year. We’ve helped change the lives of our neighbors through our energy assistance, nutrition, housing, Head Start, employment, neighborhood and youth services. But over the past 10 years, we’ve also helped change the landscape of our entire hometown.
In Hartford’s Northeast neighborhood, our Generations Housing Campus rose in the late 2000s as a new haven for grandfamilies, grandparents raising their grandchildren. In South Green, CRT’s six-story assisted living facility, The Retreat, stands as a colorful and safe community for 100 of Hartford’s low-income senior citizens. On the Hartford-Bloomfield line, CRT’s Coventry Place offers an affordable new home for seniors, and nestled between the South Green and Sheldon/Charter Oak Neighborhoods, the Wethersfield Commons apartment complex provides quality affordable housing in what previously was an overcrowded and under-maintained development.
Along with our city-wide partners, CRT and its Meadows Real Estate Development division are proud to have helped raise a new Hartford profile. But our work is far from over, with new projects to serve our neediest neighbors already on our horizon. Here’s a look back at our first decade of the new millennium, as we build the dreams of the future.
CRT invested more than $2 million dollars to construct the Wethersfield Commons affordable housing complex to replace undersized, substandard facilities that had stood in the 30 block of Wethersfield Avenue. Twelve spacious and secure apartments replaced 22 cramped units in the complex, providing families with children adequate living space. Constructed in 2001, Wethersfield Commons is managed by a locally owned Women’s Business Enterprise company, spreading benefits beyond its own walls.
In the late 2000s, CRT developed one of New England’s only communities for grandparents raising their grandchildren. Finished in September 2007, the $10.5 million campus includes 24 newly constructed multi-bedroom townhouses for grandfamilies and 16 single-bedroom apartments for seniors in a renovated century-old school, along with shared space for recreation, social services and property management. Residents of both sections of the campus are between 25 and 60 percent of area median income. In 2008, Generations was named Best Project for Families by Affordable Housing Finance Magazine and has received small commercial project and historic preservation awards from the Connecticut Chapter of Associated Builders and Contractors, Inc., the Hartford Preservation Alliance and the Connecticut Trust for Historic Preservation.
To help elderly citizens, a population becoming more vulnerable to homelessness, CRT purchased and rehabilitated a former nursing home on the Bloomfield-Hartford border into an apartment building with common spaces for residents 62 years of age and older. With 30 individual units as well as a community activity room, lounge and computer learning room, library room, hobby and craft room and outdoor activity space, Coventry Place provides a home where low-income seniors can live in safety and comfort. Opened in 2006, Coventry place provides case management, activity programming and convenient access to the full-service Burgdorf Clinic just across the street.
CRT completed work on the low-income assisted living facility in December 2004. The Retreat, a six-story, 100-unit, age-restricted assisted living project stands as a bright spot in the skyline at 90 Retreat Avenue, across the street from Hartford Hospital. Aside from providing top-notch, affordable assisted living, dining and wellness programs for its residents, The Retreat has become an informal assembly for local senior issues. Through its monthly speaker series hosted by the building’s resident council, The Retreat has hosted forums with Hartford Mayor Eddie Perez and Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal where local seniors voiced concerns about issues relating to care for seniors and their neighborhoods. Sponsored by the State of Connecticut Department of Social Services, the $17 million dollar facility was funded by Low Income Housing Tax Credits, AHP funds from the Federal Home Loan Bank in Boston, State Bond Funds and a Sovereign Bank.