Wilton Commons embarks on phase two

Jeannette Ross photos
Two and a half years after Wilton Commons opened, a groundbreaking ceremony celebrated construction of phase two of the affordable living complex for senior citizens.

A gathering of officials that included First Selectman Lynne Vanderslice, Wilton Commons Chairman and President Phil Lauria, architect Louis Contadino, Renée Dobos of Mutual Housing Association of Southwestern Connecticut, and George Ciaccio and Buck Griswold, two of the founders and early supporters of Wilton Commons, on Wednesday, Feb. 3, viewed the progress being made on 23 new units. They are expected to be ready for occupancy by Sept. 30.

“Wilton Commons is truly a jewel of a place to call home for our seniors,” Lauria said, adding that the total 74 units will provide “modern, comfortable, state-of-the-art and safe housing. Truly a vision becoming reality today.”

The new units will be classified as congregate housing for elder residents who are considered frail or “at risk” and need some level of supportive services to remain independent. They are being built by Wilton Commons Inc., in partnership with Mutual Housing Association of Southwestern Connecticut. Both organizations were awarded $5.7 million in capital funding from the state Department of Housing, which will cover construction.

The new units will be in a wing to the north of the existing Wilton Commons building, which has 51 apartments for independent living, and they will be attached on the second and third floors via enclosed walkways.

Wilton Commons Congregate offers one-bedroom apartments that are approximately 650 square feet with oversized windows to reinforce a connection to the outdoors. The hallways within the new building will also feature natural light and will be punctuated by small sitting areas.

Architect Louis Contadino said he “tried to better understand the issues faced daily by the future residents” when working on Wilton Commons Congregate.

“The small everyday tasks that we take for granted — getting dressed, bathing, eating, grooming, walking — can appear unsurmountable to an elderly person with physical limitations,” he said. “My task was not to design a building, but to make someone’s life a little easier, less stressful and pleasurable in a congregate setting.”

Residents of both wings of Wilton Commons will have access to a secure entryway, elevators, visiting nurse’s office, medical exam room, lounges with fireplaces, arts and crafts room, chapel/meditation room, commercial kitchen, dining room, resident-operated convenience store, beauty/barber shop, and ADA lavatories. On each floor there will be a laundry room and trash room. There is also a tenant storage area. Residents will receive a hot meal each day and weekly housekeeping.

Eligible residents must be 62 years of age or older and have an annual income of no more than 50% of AMI (area median income). For one person that would be $44,950 and $51,400 for two.

They must meet criteria for congregate care not limited to:

  • Physical and functional assessment of frailty.

  • Current housing conditions and living arrangements.

  • Daily living needs.

Unlike the first phase of Wilton Commons, there will be no preference given to Wilton residents; however, preference will be given to current residents of Wilton Commons. Monthly rents will be figured as a percentage of income, capped at the annual Low Income Housing Tax Credit. For 2015, a monthly rent based on 50% of AMI was approximately $1,200, and $600 based on 25% of AMI.

Potential renters may apply to Mutual Housing Association of Southwestern Connecticut through its website. A special form will be there for Wilton Commons Congregate. Applications will be considered on a first-come, first-served basis.