CALAIS — The St. Croix Apartments in Calais have been empty for several years.
“The out-of-state owner had allowed it to totally deteriorate,” said Maine’s Republican U.S. Sen. Susan Collins. “It had deteriorated to the point where it was not physically safe for those seniors to be living there.”
Collins recently announced that WCARC, a Washington County-based association that helps people with disabilities, has received about $3.2 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to renovate the apartment complex.
“This has been a labor of love. We’ve been working to refund and bring the property back to Calais for four or five years now,” said Tom Michaud, executive director of WCARC and Sunrise Opportunities. “This was our second attempt to obtain funding, and we were successful in a national competition.”
Michaud said they plan to bring 26 units of housing for low-income seniors back to Calais.
“Construction looks like really emptying out the insides and redoing the inside. It looks like refreshing the entire outside,” Michaud said. “We’ve really gone through a very in-depth design process to make sure we help sustain people living in their homes as long as they can.”
According to Michaud, the renovations will be made to accommodate the elderly and comply with the Americans with Disabilities Act.
“Including technology, removing curbs and other obstacles that might be in their way to come and go and really just starting fresh with the property and giving it everything it really needed before,” Michaud said.
Collins, who is the ranking member of the Housing Appropriations subcommittee, said there is a major need for affordable housing in the state.
“Maine is the oldest state in the nation by median age and Washington County is a low-income county,” Collins said.
Calais City Manager Mike Ellis said this will benefit the community.
“It’s gonna fulfill the need of housing. It’s gonna put people to work,” Ellis said.
Although there is no set timeline for the completion of the project, they hope to see people moving in within the next few years.