Senior housing project gets $4m

NASHUA – One of the final pieces of the puzzle to build a complex with a new Senior Activity Center and affordable elderly housing has fallen into place.

Southern New Hampshire Services has received $4,041,000 to open 43 units of affordable housing beside a new Senior Activity Center on Temple Street.

“We are going to put together a team of people so we can work on a new timeline,” said Donnalee Lozeau, the director of program and community development for the agency.

Mayor Bernie Streeter called the announcement great news.

“I’m very excited. This makes the whole project workable,” he said.

The project is a joint venture between the local government, the federal government and two nonprofit agencies.

One piece is the construction of a new $2.4 million Senior Activity Center to replace an aging and overcrowded structure.

The current proposal calls for a new 22,560-square-foot, two-level building attached to a four-story, 43-unit senior-housing complex that would be managed by Southern New Hampshire Services. The existing building at 70 Temple St. would be razed and the site used for parking.

Lozeau said the housing is critically needed in the community.

There is a waiting list longer than the total number of apartments managed by the agency, she said. Some 200 people sit on the waiting list and the agency has 192 units in Nashua, she said.The apartments will be reserved for seniors 62 and older who earn less than about $20,000 for a couple. The rent is frozen at one-third of the occupants’ income.

The project creates a new dynamic, she said, combining housing and the activity center.

“They are living longer. They are active longer,” Lozeau said.

The downtown location, close to shopping, activities and places to go, along with the appeal of being close to the Nashua River, makes it an ideal spot for seniors to live, she said.

The plan fits in with a proposal in the 2003 Downtown Master Plan to turn the Temple Street area into a revived neighborhood that enjoys the river.

Financial contributions from City Hall and the federal government will pay for the project.

The housing money is a federal grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Aldermen have endorsed borrowing $2.4 million to build the new senior activity center. And congressional leaders have also helped with the project.

This fall, U.S. Rep. Charles Bass and U.S. Sen. Judd Gregg secured $750,000 for the reconstruction of the senior center, and U.S. Sen. John Sununu has also backed the project.