by Carla Occaso
MONTPELIER — Heaton Woods, a nonprofit residential care housing facility, is in the process of being sold to a larger nonprofit dedicated to holistic living for elders. The deal is not complete, yet, according to Jo Ann Troiano, executive director of the Montpelier Housing Authority and the secretary of the Capital City Housing Foundation. “It is an ongoing process. The closing won’t be for several months.” When asked if the facility will undergo drastic changes, Troiano said, no, rather, “It will be the same. The people are going to stay and the employees are going to stay.” She does expect the new company to make some necessary renovations that had been on the back burner, though. The buyer, Living Well based in Bristol, had become familiar with the Montpelier senior living facility because Heaton Woods had hired them as consultants to improve the operation, according to Troiano.
Heaton Woods was started in the 1995 with a Vermont Community Development loan, so principal parties will have to renegotiate with the City of Montpelier. It was built to fill a need of affordable assisted living, Troiano said. Heaton Woods serves older residents who can no longer live at home and offers a sliding scale for those who have financial difficulties. However, keeping the boat afloat has not been easy, Troiano suggested, saying “we struggled over the years.” Selling Heaton to a responsible buyer will keep it going but take the burden off the housing authority. Living Well runs two centers on the other side of the state, one in Bristol and the Ethan Allen Residence in Burlington. Their approach is holistic. They believe in physical activity, healthy local food, music, art and yoga to keep residents healthy.
Kevin Casey, community development specialist for the City of Montpelier said from what he has heard, this will be a good move for the community. The original loan to the Montpelier Housing Authority was $600,000 and Living Well will pay it back, Casey said. “It is exciting. The work they do. They take a holistic approach to reduce medicaid costs. They focus on nutrition, excercise and activities … The outcomes are spectacular.”
The land has been an issue as well. “We own quite a bit of land,” Troiano said. “We are adamant that the mission of Capital City Housing foundation and all the (land conservation) covenants will stay in place.”
Organizations that support Living Well include AARP, Ben & Jerry Foundations Economic Justice Grant local housing trust funds, a community block grant, City Market Co-op Patronage Seedling Grant, Hoehl Family Foundation, Merchants Bank Foundation, Vermont Community Foundation Special and Urgent Needs, Vermont Housing Conservation Board and the Waterwheel Foundation.