Community Development Block Grant
Success Stories

East Providence, RI - Mayor Joseph Larisa, Jr.

East Providence Senior Center

In 1993, despite the fact that nearly one-fourth of its residents are over 60 years of age, East Providence did not have a Senior Center to provide services to this population. To address this need, the City Council appointed a 35-member Senior Citizens' Advisory Board to recommend a centrally-located site and provide the vision for the development of a new, comprehensive senior service center.

In 1996, with the advice of the Advisory Board, the City issued a request for proposal for properties to be considered for the development of the new facility. A large (nearly seven-acre), centrally-located tract of land which included three buildings, a single-family residential property and a large playing field was offered. The property was the last remnant of open space and historical interest in a densely developed part of the City. A developer had proposed a retail superstore for the property, which was owned by a private secondary school, but opposition from neighborhood and other City residents blocked the proposal. The availability of the property made it possible for the City to provide, in addition to a 12,000-square-foot Senior Center, an affordable housing project, youth soccer fields, and two additional buildings for future use.

The purchase price was $1.8 million. The City used CDBG funds, payable over a five-year period, for one-half of the acquisition and renovation costs, as one-half of the property would be used for CDBG-eligible activities. It financed the balance of the purchase price through a mortgage agreement with the private school. In addition, the City had allocated $300,000 in CDBG funds toward the development of the Senior Center. The extensive interior and exterior renovations cost approximately $850,000. City officials say the project would not have been possible without the availability of CDBG funds.

The East Providence Senior Center opened in May 1998, and more than 1,000 seniors already have participated in its programs. The facility includes a senior health center which provides a primary care office specializing in geriatric medicine. A full-time community health nurse provides health monitoring and wellness and health education programs. A library branch, a lounge/reading room, a computer center, an arts room, other activity rooms and social services offices are located there. Outdoor recreational facilities include a bocci court, horseshoe pits, a walking path and picnic tables in a park-like setting. The Center also serves 150 meals each day.

The single-family residential property is currently being renovated and soon will be available to an eligible family as an affordable, lead-safe rental unit. Two affordable housing units are currently in the planning stages for an adjacent lot.

Contact: Nancy Remington, Community Development Coordinator, (401) 435-7535

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