A new seniors housing development in Shelburne, Vt., is providing residents with a healthy environment and a wealth of social services to help them age in place.

In a state with an aging population, Cathedral Square Corp.’s Wright House, which opened in July, features 36 one-bedroom units for low-income seniors. All of the units receive U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development subsidies, with a preference toward residents earning 50 percent or less of the area median income.

Residents have access to the Support and Services at Home (SASH) program, which is part of Vermont’s statewide health care reform initiative, the Blueprint for Health. SASH is a coordinated program that helps residents access the care they need to stay healthy while living independently and has proven to significantly save Medicare dollars. A wellness nurse is on-site 12 hours a week, and two SASH coordinators help connect residents with community services.

The property features an outdoor garden with a sitting area and a walking path for residents.
Credit: Sally McKay Photography

The property features an outdoor garden with a sitting area and a walking path for residents.

Amenities include a community room with a kitchen, a lounge, raised garden beds, a beauty salon, a computer station, and a fitness room. The property also features a walking path with a pergola and a sensory garden with plants for taste, smell, and touch.

“We are encouraging aging in place, and we want to touch every sense for all,” says Katie Forleo, project manager for the nonprofit developer.

Wright House also delivers energy-efficient housing, with Energy Star lighting and appliances, a green roof, a rainwater collection system, a 30 kW solar photovoltaic system, and water-conservation features. It has achieved National Green Building Standard gold certification and an Energy Star 3.0 rating and is in the final phases of getting its green building certification by Enterprise Green Communities.

Cathedral Square’s latest development is part of a new multigenerational smart growth community in Shelburne. Wright House is located next to the 42-unit Harrington Village, an affordable housing project developed by nonprofits Housing Vermont and Champlain Housing Trust. Additionally, four for-sale homes are under construction through a partnership between Champlain Housing Trust and Green Mountain Habitat for Humanity.

“The multigenerational community helps everybody,” says Forleo. “Seniors can go on the walking path and watch the kids on the playground. And the kids have the older senior person there to be a resource for them.”

The $9.3 million development was financed primarily with low-income housing tax credit equity from Enterprise Community Investment. USDA Rural Development provided permanent financing in addition to the rental subsidies. Additional financing sources came from HOME funds, Vermont Housing Finance Agency, the Vermont Housing & Conservation Board, the Vermont Community Development Program, Efficiency Vermont, and Vermont Gas.