Communities of Opportunity—Manchester, Connecticut
The Rose Affordable Housing Preservation Fund acquired Squire Village, a 379-unit affordable housing development located in Manchester, Connecticut in April, 2016. A major property improvement program was implemented, including the renovation of units to green specifications, improved landscaping, the installation of 200 KW of solar panels offsetting electric usage, roof and gutter replacements, improved security measures, including an onsite police substation, and replacement of paving and sidewalks. The capital budget also enabled the building of a new 7,000 square foot community center and management office that incorporates a wide range of programs, including health and wellness screenings, exercise classes, and tutoring and literacy programs, staffed by a full-time resident services coordinator.
Our new community space provides the perfect location for our residents to convene and is the beating heart of our Communities of Opportunity programming. Our staff work closely with resident volunteers and community organizations to deliver a wide range of health and educational activities for the community.
The Squire Village community center is a safe haven for our residents and their children, providing an array of after school programs. The parents now have a centralized place to safely place their children, and each day the children are provided with skill building classes, homework help, and healthy snacks. Programs are designed to engage each age group in productive, educational and healthy activities.
Many families struggle with food insecurity and find it difficult to provide nutritious food throughout the month. This increases in the school recess summer months when free school lunches, that many families at Squire Village rely on, are absent. Additionally, over fifty percent of the residents at Squire Village rely on public transportation to buy groceries. To respond to this, Squire Village organized the delivery of fresh, affordable food, delivered through multiple sources. Free nutritious groceries and fresh produce are delivered twice a month by the Food Bank of Manchester. Free lunches are provided to K-age 18 during the on-site summer camp programming. Community partners, such as the Salvation Army, also provide healthy snacks when they are conducting programs on-site. And a partnership with UCONN provides nutrition classes helping parents learn how to prepare healthy, nutritious food.
Squire Village’s Health and Wellness programming includes a wide variety of programs that target different aspects of wellness, partnering with First Choice Health Centers and the Eastern Connecticut Health Network (ECHN), amongst others. First Choice Health is providing both mobile dental and podiatric services on a quarterly basis. ECHN continues to provide medical residents every Friday to offer general health information and/or non-invasive screenings.
We also offer programs to increase resident health literacy, nutrition, provision of on-site flu shots, resident-led exercise and walking groups, dance classes, health screenings, and stress reduction. The community center full service gym has over 100 members registered.
The renovation of Squire Village included a police sub-station on campus which has contributed greatly to the overall feeling of safety. This provides the residents of the campus with a sense of security, and responsiveness from the Manchester police force. Through on-going programming, the police and the community are developing a more trusting and productive relationship.
Police are becoming partners with families, particularly with the teens. They conduct regular “Coffee with the Cops”, ice cream social events, and seasonal sports activities with the children. The police are working closely with property management and counseling staff, and have stated that crime has declined on the property.
A 379 unit affordable housing preservation project in Manchester, CT, which underwent a complete renovation, greening and the construction of a new 7,000-square foot community center to serve Its 1,000 residents with over 30 programs.