YARMOUTH — Fundraising has started for the second phase of improvements at Bartlett Circle, the low-income senior housing complex.

The non-profit organization Yarmouth Senior Housing hopes to raise nearly $315,000.

Bartlett Circle was created by a group of nine Yarmouth citizens concerned about their parents’ living situations in 1975. Since then, the housing complex has been providing senior independent housing without local, state or federal assistance.

Yarmouth Senior Housing, a non-profit organization with a volunteer board was formed, and until earlier this year, could operate on the project’s rental income.

Sandra McCatherin, manager of Bartlett Circle, said the group has applied for a $150,000 rural development loan from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. The loan would be used to help renovate and expand the existing community building at Bartlett Circle. 

In addition to the loan, McCatherin said YSH has applied for a $165,000 Community Development Block Grant.

President Margaret Downing said the Community Block Grant application is complete, but  a decision isn’t expected until at least May.

“Right now everything is in the process of review,” she said. “We hope to secure the funding for the project, but we have no funding in hand at this time.”

Last week, Downing said the Town Council appropriated $20,000 from a housing relief fund to help YSH in its Phase II efforts. Downing said the funds are meant to be used for housing purposes.

The second phase of improvements will enhance the existing community center so it can be used as an emergency shelter, Downing said. Plans include expanding the building by 500 square feet and updating the kitchen and bathroom areas. A propane stove, heater and generator will be included to ensure emergency safety levels are met.

Once the funding is in place, construction could begin as soon as August, McCatherin said. She said the work will take only three to four months to complete.

“It may be tricky, but we’ll work around it,” she said. “We expect the Rotary and Lions Club to come in around the first of May to help put a shed up so we can move in the equipment, then empty the rest of the building and start the expansion.”

She said the improvements may make it possible to house other seniors in addition to the 30 residents of Bartlett Circle when there is an emergency situation.

“We’d like to incorporate other seniors from town to use the center for meeting space or  shelter if necessary,” she said. “It’s an improvement that could be a benefit for the whole town.”

The Phase I improvements are now complete, McCatherin said. The cost of the first round of improvements was estimated at about $340,000, and it took about a year to raise nearly $107,000 from the public. About $232,000 was raised internally.

In addition to public contributions, local organizations and businesses donated to the cause. A restaurant dining campaign helped raise about $2,400, and $3,500 was raised by the Pumpkin Run last October. The Rotary Club donated $5,000 to Bartlett Circle, and the First Parish Church held a benefit dinner and collected more than $1,000.

The Phase I upgrades to the 28 senior homes were completed last September, and now residents have new walkways and lighting, and wider entrances.

“It is so wonderful here,” McCatherin said. “The residents can get around easier, the sidewalks are safe and paved, and the lighting is adjusted. It is much better now and looking very nice.”

The application for the $150,000 loan will be discussed at the next YSH board meeting on April 21 at 4 p.m. at the Bartlett Circle Community building.

“Dealing with government funding is very different from a public fundraising drive,” McCatherin said. “We are hopeful the funds will come through and the project can begin soon.”

Amy Anderson can be reached at 781-3661 ext. 110 or [email protected]

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