In 2001, Fairfield County Community Foundation (FCCF) received a bequest from the estate of Stella Margaret McHenry, a longtime Norwalk resident and former teacher at Norwalk High School. The bequest established the Stella Margaret McHenry Fund to help low income seniors with their housing needs. A meeting of Fairfield County Community Foundation, the Norwalk Senior Center and a representative of Mrs. McHenry’s estate led to the idea of a housing assistance fund at the center which would benefit financially needy seniors. The establishing gift was made in 2002 and since that time, the Norwalk Senior Housing Assistance Fund has helped seniors like the two profiled below to find and maintain safe, affordable housing. In 2007, the Southwestern Connecticut Area Agency on Aging replicated this successful model for seniors in Greater Bridgeport with an establishing competitive grant from FCCF.
Tony applied for a Senior Housing Loan three years ago after he lost his girlfriend of 40 years and could no longer afford the high rent they were paying together. His loan helped with moving expenses and a security deposit for his new affordable apartment at Cedar Court Senior Housing. Without the loan, he faced eviction and an uncertain future. Tony has been making manageable monthly payments on his loan and is thriving in his new place. He now has access to a senior center, lunch program, and the social worker in his building.
Anna came to the senior center over six years ago to apply for a housing loan. She had been accepted into senior housing, but was unable to take the apartment because she could not afford the mandatory purchase of a stove and refrigerator. Without this purchase, Anna would have remained in a shared apartment building for the homeless. This year, Anna paid off her loan and is safe and happy in her community. She is an active member of the senior center and takes advantage of day trips with her friends, rides for shopping and benefits counseling.