BRISTOL - Chrysalis Center Inc. cut the ribbon on The Elms Monday afternoon, marking the transformation of the former St. Vincent DePaul transitional shelter into housing for homeless veterans.
Tenants are expected to move into the newly refurbished apartment building at 419 West St. starting next week.
The three-story building has plenty of community space on the lower floor, with a common room and kitchen for group events, a meeting room, a laundry room, an exercise room, and a TV room.
The ground floor and upper floor contain four one-bedroom apartments, five efficiency apartments and a property manager’s office. The units are wheelchair accessible, with granite countertops, and come with basic furniture. The Bristol Housing Authority selected the tenants.
“The fact that it’s an older building and has lots of windows enhances the feeling,” said Natalie Cooke, Chrysalis Center’s director of supportive housing. “There’s lots of light and it’s just beautiful.”
“We started planning this three years ago, and then we have been under construction for the last year. We have a waiting list now. The tenants will be anywhere from 18 to in their 60s. Right now they’re all single, but people always meet people as their lives come back together,” said Sharon Castelli, Chrysalis Center CEO.
“It’s permit housing so the veterans can stay as long as they want to stay,” she said. “What what we find is that people are on veterans benefits or they want to go out and work. They live here a couple of years or they may end up living here forever. They pay rent but a number of them will also be able to start saving for a new place.”
“We work with the Veterans Strong organization out of the mayor’s office, so my guess is there will be veterans meetings happening here as well,” she said.
“We have veterans groups that come on site for PTSD support as well as other types of supports,” she added.
Based in Hartford, Chrysalis Center is a private nonprofit organization that provides housing, employment, and mental health services to veterans throughout Connecticut.
In recent years, through the formation of the Chrysalis Center Real Estate Corp, the organization has expanded to include its own housing development, building and ownership single site projects.
Its main campus is in Hartford, with a satellite office in Waterbury, and housing projects in Hartford, Plainville, Newington, Waterford, Stafford Springs, Rocky Hill and Vernon. The organization also provides on-site support services to veterans throughout the state in its housing programs.
St. Vincent DePaul and its predecessor, Bristol Emergency Shelter & Housing Coalition, operated The Elms from 1988 through 2015 as a transitional men’s shelter, according to Mayor Ellen Zoppo-Sassu. St. Vincent DePaul decommissioned the building on Jan. 31, 2016, due to financial difficulties and donated it to Chrysalis Center.
Susan Corica can be reached at 860-973-1802 or firstname.lastname@example.org.