By Seth Daniel
Isabel Claudio has lived in the Residencia Betances for 10 years or more, but her long-time first-floor room has a new way about it.
“It’s very good; I’m happy to have something new,” she said in quiet words late last month during the ribbon cutting on the state-financed renovation project of Betances on Shawmut Street.
Being able to provide supportive housing to folks who are formerly homeless and clients of the Department of Mental Health (DMH) makes Betances a very special place said most who congregated for the celebration on Oct. 27. Given the homelessness problem in the South End at the moment, it could be a place that needs replication.
The ceremony, led by IBA CEO Vanessa Calderón-Rosado, brought together city and state officials that included State representative Aaron Michlewitz, Undersecretary of Housing and Community Development Chrystal Kornegay, Laila Bernstein, Advisor to the Mayor for the Initiative to End Chronic Homelessness and CEDAC Director of Housing Development Sara Barcan. Attendees applauded this major milestone for a property that offers affordable housing to those that need it most, and provides unparalleled services to enhance the quality of life for its residents.
IBA recently completed exterior and interior upgrades to the property, which is located on Shawmut Avenue. Enhancements were made to the property’s historical brownstone exterior, and the interior was revamped through upgrades to the common areas to create more of an open and welcoming floor plan. Improvements were also made to the individual units.
“Residencia Betances is such a meaningful part of Boston’s South End, and we are proud to have completed renovations that will enhance the lives of our residents,” said Calderón-Rosado. “We are grateful to those that have helped make this project happen, and look forward to continuing with more work aimed at providing affordable housing for those in need.”
Residencia Betances was originally developed by IBA in 1993, and is one of the few properties that serves the unique purpose of providing supportive housing to Spanish-speaking residents who are formerly homeless clients of the Department of Mental Health. IBA works with the department to ensure that residents have access to a range of supportive services that enable them to live successfully and optimize their overall health, wellness and recovery. A bilingual and bicultural support staff works around the clock with residents to handle treatments and further their rehabilitation goals. Additionally, the staff assists them with a wide range of services that include symptom management, community skill development, support with medication administration and health care appointments, meal preparation, and all residents are encouraged to partake in social, employment and wellness activities.
“The new Residencia Betances will provide residents with an affordable, supportive base for future stability and success,” said Housing and Community Development Undersecretary Chrystal Kornegay. “Providing Massachusetts’ neediest with mental and emotional support, along with physical shelter will help to improve the lives of the residents, and will support the continued vibrancy and diversity of the surrounding community.”
The project was financed Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD), and the funds for this project come from DHCD’s Housing Preservation Stabilization and Facilities Consolidation funds, and in part by the Community Economic Development Assistance Corporation.