Community leaders, housing advocates and corporate partners today
celebrated the grand opening of "Gini's House," Liberation Programs' new
$7.2 million housing development for women who are overcoming substance
Robin DePaiva (center) and her newborn baby Patrick join Gov. Dannel Malloy and other dignitaries to help cut the ribbon marking the opening of Gini's House, a new, permanent supportive-housing community for women and their families in Norwalk. L to R: Norwalk Mayor Harry Rilling; Alan Mathis, President & CEO, Liberation Programs; Robin DePaiva and her son Patrick, newly moved in residents; Ross Burkhardt, President & CEO of New Neighborhoods Inc.; Gov. Malloy; Stephen Farrell, CEO, UnitedHealthcare of New England; Bob Bantle, son of Lou and Virginia "Gini" Bantle (Photo: Chris Bosch).
According to the Southwest Regional Mental Health Board, a lack of
supportive housing is one of the biggest barriers for women with
children and often jeopardizes their recovery from substance abuse. To
address the shortage of supportive housing in Norwalk and the
surrounding community, Liberation Programs has developed Gini's House, a
safe affordable-housing community for women and their children.
"Too many times I heard mothers with children tell me about having
nowhere to go, no place to live, and their stories broke my heart," said
Debra Hertz, Ph.D., Liberation Programs chairperson. "I have to give
credit to our president and CEO Alan Mathis. He had the vision to create
this project, and through his leadership we found the support needed to
get construction started. Those seven years of hard work and
determination have paid off, as today we celebrate what we have been
able to accomplish together, as a community, with the completion of
The newly renovated building, at 4 Elmcrest Terrace, contains 1
one-bedroom and 17 two-bedroom furnished apartments that include
refrigerators, ranges and dishwashers that were provided courtesy of GE
Capita. Gini's House features security, a fitness center and a
community room with computers and Internet access, as well as onsite
case management and support services for residents such as connections
to education, job training and employment assistance.
"Gini's House provides a model program and safe housing for women and
their children who need a helping hand," said Gov. Dannel Malloy, who
attended the ribbon-cutting ceremony and open house. "I applaud the hard
work, dedication and support of all those involved in building this
important community development that will help so many women rebuild
their lives after facing difficult struggles."
UnitedHealthcare, through a partnership with Enterprise Community
Investment, Inc. (Enterprise), invested $5.4 million in Gini's House
through the use of Low Income Housing Tax Credits to help fund the $7.2
million community. The investment is part of an initiative by
UnitedHealthcare to improve health by building affordable-housing
communities with supportive services that help people who need
assistance live healthier lives. The company has provided more than $150
million in funding to development projects throughout the United States,
$77 million of which is in partnership with Enterprise.
"Gini's House will create new opportunities, hope and a foundation of
support for women and their families who will make this their home,"
said Stephen Farrell, CEO, UnitedHealthcare of New England, a
UnitedHealth Group (NYSE: UNH) company. "We are grateful to be a partner
in such an important project that will help so many women who need a
helping hand." UnitedHealth Group employs more than 4,000 people at four
locations in Connecticut.
"Enterprise is a national organization that believes opportunity starts
with a good home that you can afford. That's why we are proud to join
UnitedHealthcare and all of our partners to bring this national model
for providing housing and health care to women who are in greatest need
of our help and support," said Charlie Werhane, president and CEO of
Enterprise Community Investment.
Additional funding partners for Gini's House include the Connecticut
Department of Economic and Community Development (DECD), which provided
a $2 million loan; Liberation Programs, which contributed $343,000 in
private support; and the U.S. Housing and Urban Development (HUD)
through a $49,000 housing grant. New Neighborhoods, Inc. (NNI), a
Fairfax County-based nonprofit developer, and Liberation Programs were
the general co-partners. NNI now provides property management services
for the development.
"New Neighborhoods welcomes and salutes the families who will now call
Gini's House their home," said Ross Burkhardt, president & CEO of New
Neighborhoods, Inc. "We feel honored to partner with Liberation Programs
to turn our organizations' shared vision - of safe, affordable and
sustainable supportive homes where families can reclaim and rebuild
their lives - into a reality."
Enterprise Builders was the general contractor, which oversaw a complete
redesign of the building to incorporate a new interior layout including
an elevator, all new mechanical and electrical systems, roof
replacement, new windows and exterior siding.
Gini's House is named for Virginia Bantle, wife of Lou Bantle who passed
away three years ago. His investment toward the project included the
purchase of the building at 4 Elmcrest Terrace in Norwalk as well as
making a sizable contribution, which enabled the agency to begin the
project groundwork. Lou and Gini Bantle were the first to receive
Liberation Programs' Spirit of Hope Award for their extraordinary
devotion and understanding of the disease of addiction and the
possibility of recovery. Mr. Bantle's staunch support of recovery
services inspired the agency to allocate proceeds from the yearly Spirit
of Hope benefit dinner towards the creation of Gini's House.
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