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Ground broken for Hillside Residence!

The Sisters of Providence held a long-awaited groundbreaking ceremony on May 18 for the construction of Hillside Residence, a $10 million innovative project to build 36 units of affordable, elder housing integrated with health services on the 27-acre campus at 2112 Riverdale Street in West Springfield. Despite predictions to the contrary, the sun appeared and the temperature warmed as over 100 state and local dignitaries, legislators, community leaders, Sisters, Associates and colleagues gathered under a shining, white tent on the grass-covered project site.


GroundbreakingSister Kathleen Popko, SP President, welcomed guests to the campus and shared the journey that brought all to this moment since the closing of the Brightside residential campus in 2010.

Quoting St. Francis’ words—“The journey is essential to the dream,” she commented, “Though difficult, lengthy and challenging, the eight-year journey to the groundbreaking was perhaps essential to engage enough committed people to bring together the healthcare community and the housing community in ways we might not have worked together in the past.” She added that the journey “sharpened our vision, tested our determination and enlarged our circle of friends and committed supporters of this innovative initiative.” Key to the integration of health services with Hillside Residence is the close relationship with Mercy LIFE (PACE), a Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly.

Joseph Larkin, executive director, stated that PACE, a Medicare and Medicaid program, will help low-income seniors at risk of institutionalization by providing health and social services to keep these frail elders independent, healthy, and engaged. Providing safe, affordable housing integrated with health services is key to Hillside Residence’s program.

View of tent at groundbreaking

Mayor William Reichelt spoke of the importance of the project from the perspective of the City of West Springfield, saying the project will have an economic impact as well. Sister Kathleen praised his on-going support calling him “a friend and supporter.” Senator James Welch and Representative Michael Finn, West Side’s Statehouse delegation, both have supported the project. Senator Welch commented on Hillside Residence, “This really is the next cutting-edge of health care in Massachusetts. These are the types of projects we’re always continuously looking for.”

Working together
Janelle Chan, the new undersecretary of the Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), emphasized, “We’re all here today because we’re invested in Hillside Residence.” DHCD is providing $2.5M in funding from the Housing Stabilization Fund, the National Housing Trust Fund, and the Housing Innovation Fund Program. The State Rental Voucher Program is providing project-based subsidies that limit residents’ housing costs to 30% of their income.

State Elder Affairs Secretary Alice Bonner noted it was fitting the “project be launched in May, Older Americans Month.” A strong supporter of innovative models of care for elders, she stressed, “It’s about creating campuses where people can age together with the services they need,” adding that Hillside Residence will serve as a model for “how to live and age well in Massachusetts.”

Ground broken for Hillside Residence
Ground broken for Hillside Residence
Ground broken for Hillside Residence Ground broken for Hillside Residence

The Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation’s (CEDAC) Executive Director Roger Herzog commended the project leaders’ efforts to bring together the health care and housing providers. He described his efforts to break down “silos” at the State level through multi-departmental collaboration, saying the Hillside Residence project is an example of this cross-departmental effort.

Paul Boudo, chair of the City’s Community Preservation Committee (CPC), stated it is the first time the Committee awarded funds for affordable elder housing, remarking that the $750,000 in CPC funds to support Hillside Residence will impact positively West Springfield’s efforts to reach its state-mandated 10 percent affordable housing goal.

Ground broken for Hillside Residence

Relative to private funds, the Harry and Jeannette Weinberg Foundation awarded the Hillside Residence project a $1.5 million grant. The Sisters of Providence matched the total funds raised from public and private sources.

Sister Kathleen introduced the Project’s Development Team: Kathleen Lingenberg, Community Outcomes, LLC; CFO John Wesolowski, Sisters of Providence, Inc.; architects Greg Zorzi and Chris Novelli, Studio One, Inc.; Randall Locklin, Locklin Construction Co., owner’s representative; and Christopher Boino, Western Builders, General Contractors. Bishop Mitchell Rozanski of Springfield offered closing remarks and a final blessing before the traditional groundbreaking ceremony took place.


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