Choice Housing Opportunities for Intergenerational and Community Endeavors
The Chelmsford Housing Authority is not just a bricks and mortar operation. There is a team of committed individuals who strive to find the money and services available so that young families and elders can remain safe and happy in their homes.
In 1999, the CHA identified the need for elderly and disabled in their buildings to have a person on site to advocate for their residents. Thus, the position of Manager of Home and Community Based Services and Program Development was created. As these needs were identified, the CHA realized that issues of isolation, loneliness, mental illness and loss of independence and family were widespread. These problems resulted in many residents having to leave their homes and enter long term care facilities instead of aging in place as hoped. In order to minimize these issues, programs and services have been put in to place in each of the CHA residences. Through the collaborative working relationship that the CHA has developed with many agencies we are able to identify needs, advocate for services and follow through with inter-agency communication. It is the goal of CHOICE to provide services and a continuum of care that will allow elders to remain in their home and truly age in place.
Family Self-Sufficiency, otherwise know as FSS, is a program developed by the Federal Government and administered by the Chelmsford Housing Authority. It is our ultimate goal to help clients receiving housing assistance become independent and able to support themselves and their families without outside assistance. It is the responsibility of the FSS Program Manager to offer whatever assistance a client may need in order to achieve this independence. This assistance includes school and financial aid counseling, resume writing and job search, stress management, child-care assistance, food and clothing assistance, home buyer training, money management training and budgeting.
The realization was that both of the above mentioned populations required similar services, so the two programs joined together in 2002 to form CHOICE a non-profit corporation dedicated to the betterment of all populations serviced by the Chelmsford Housing Authority. Thanks to wonderful community support we have been able to open 3 beauty salons in our resident buildings, provide a 2 week theatre summer camp for seniors and children at high risk, have weekly yoga classes, assist over 75 families with providing Christmas gifts to their children and assistance with food and clothing to families, children and elders in the Chelmsford Housing Authority Community.
CHOICE has joined together with the Chelmsford Housing Authority to develop 37 units of affordable housing for elders on a campus where residents can access a range of services that will enable them to age in place while participating in a vibrant community. The CHOICE Center is located on an existing campus that has both state and federal housing programs as well as a close proximity to the Chelmsford Senior Center. The services on this campus include:
- 24-hour on-site emergency care
- On-site resident service coordination
- Vendor-contracted home-making services
- Adult Day Health Center
- Transitional/Enhanced Congregate Program
- Meals program
- Beauty parlor
- Holistic Healing Center – yoga, healing touch, etc.
- Brown Bag food program providing food to residents on a monthly basis
- Free prescription delivery service
- Monthly wellness clinic
- Foot-care clinics
The CHOICE Center design includes 32 one-bedroom units and five two-bedroom units. The two-bedroom units recognize the changing definition of senior housing. This definition includes: elderly parents caring for a disabled child; two elderly siblings living together to support each other; a senior person caring for his or her elderly parent; an elderly couple, one of whom would otherwise have to be placed in a long-term care facility causing a severe economic hardship; or a resident requiring a live-in medical aide.
CHOICE continues to look for new and innovative ideas and services to add to our Chelmsford Housing Authority Community.