The newly renovated New Carlisle Village community in New Carlisle, Ohio, is as comfortable a place to live as it looks, residents of the Episcopal Retirement Services Affordable Living senior-living campus told people who visited their apartments after a groundbreaking Monday.
“This is a wonderful community to be in,” said Mary Gamble, a mother of three, grandmother of seven and great-grandmother of two who has lived in the community for five years.
The $13.3 million renovation to New Carlisle Village, a community of 96 patio-home apartments, “is a big improvement,” Gamble said.
“I can’t even describe how much better the kitchen is, and the central air-conditioning is amazing,” she said. “As far as my bathroom, I have no problems getting in and out of my shower now,” with much lower risk of falling because of safety features in her bathroom. “It is just a relief.”
“I love it,” Gamble said. “ I’m a senior citizen, and I’m just a push-button away from help, and they’re usually here between 5 and 7 minutes,” when she has a hard time breathing, feels like she may faint, or has fallen.
“Since the renovations and the beautiful things we have when we open our front doors, we all sit out on the porch, we talk, and it’s just completely different.”
While New Carlisle is an Affordable Living community, ERS says the apartments, designed by RDL Architects and renovated by Cincinnati-based The Model Group, are built to the quality of ones that would rent for market rates.
It has good numbers of quality cabinets and appliances, comfortable rooms with nice natural light, an attractive community room, a community garden, and fitness centers (indoors and outdoors).
Making the Financing Happen
To make the upgrades, ERS and its partners worked closely with the U.S. Department of Agriculture in precedent-setting actions that allowed the project to apply for Low-Income Housing Tax Credits during separate years. Those tax credits made the project’s financing feasible.
Built during the late 1970s and early ‘80s, the two 48-unit communities recently were legally separated, so each could compete on its own for tax credits: Sunrise Terrace as a rural rehabilitation project; and Rachel Court as an urban rehabilitation project.
“The USDA has been a creative, gracious, and helpful partner,” said ERS President and CEO Laura Lamb. “It was a very complicated project to finance, and we could do that through the wonderful partnership between the Ohio Housing Finance Agency and the USDA.”
Partners in the project included Senior Citizens Associates Apartments, which had owned the property, and Affordable Living by ERS and financial institutions.
Praise for its Feeling of Home
“I love it,” said resident Sharon Hildenbrand, who broke her foot three years ago and has trouble with steps, so she particularly appreciates the single-level apartments. “The community’s beautiful, and close to everything downtown. It’s really an amazing place.”
Hildenbrand also praised ERS’s New Carlisle Community Manager Christine Krimm, who cooks monthly luncheons for residents and is beloved by them.
Service Coordinator Rita Jones helps residents by connecting them with such services as utility-payment assistance, medical insurance cards, and Meals on Wheels. She also prepares a monthly newsletter filled with seasonal recipes, health tips, and upcoming community events. Jones often just talks with residents to chase away their loneliness.
At the ribbon-cutting Monday, Guy Ford, director of legislative affairs for the Ohio Housing Finance Agency, praised the welcoming community that has been created.
"This just feels like home, right here, for the folks that live here. And good for you,” he said. “I wish that every property that we are able to help finance had this welcoming kind of feel to it, and I'm happy for you for that."
Stepping Beyond the Usual
ERS and its partners make a point of creating affordable-living communities where residents have better opportunities to find joy and comfort.
Scott MacDonald, Dayton-based community president of The Huntington National Bank, was impressed with what he saw.
He said Huntington has three stated purposes: helping improve people’s lives, helping businesses thrive, and strengthening communities.
“And it’s projects like this that allow us to live out our purpose. This is what makes banking fun,” he said.
Huntington, Richwood Bank, and CareSource were among the banks involved, along with U.S. Bancorp Community Development Corporation (USBCDC).
ERS says the apartments, like those at its other affordable-living communities, are built to the quality of ones that would rent at market rates.
ERS Vice President of Affordable Living James “Jimmy” Wilson thanked the ERS team members.
“I especially want to thank our dedicated staff at this site for all their work to make the lives of our residents and future residents one filled with freedom, choice and purpose, and to give them an opportunity to thrive,” Wilson said.
“I am very blessed by the residents,” Krimm said. Aside from the tidy community garden surrounded by a tidy picket fence and the community room, “Having the service coordinator is a vital piece of the puzzle,” in helping residents feel welcome, and looking forward to sharing time together, Krimm said.
Bobby Maly, CEO of The Model Group, said his company has worked on about 30 communities with ERS.
“They are a special group who are totally focused on the quality of life of their residents,” he said. “My own grandfather lived in one of their communities (Marjorie P. Lee), and I experienced that first-hand.”