A woman recently called Therese Jourdan, executive director of the Groton Housing Authority, to say she could no longer reach the cabinets in her three-bedroom mobile home.
"When an elderly couple can no longer take care of the property or the house itself and they have trouble mowing and plowing, that's the time that this is a perfect situation for them," Jourdan said of the state-run senior housing options in town, Grasso Gardens on Governors Circle and Pequot Village on Village Lane.
"As the couple gets older, they can't handle those things. So they decide, 'Well, let's see what else is out there, because we can't do this anymore.'"
Ledyard and Groton's housing authorities, like others in the area, are in charge of the state-run housing options. The units vary in space, size and location, but pretty much uniformly offer small spaces for independent living for those 62 and older or those with disabilities.
Jane Christensen, executive director of the Ledyard housing authority, said it's a mix of singles and couples who call.
"Sometimes the husband dies and the wife can't do anything, so she wants to get rid of the house and move in, and sometimes a couple wants to move, too, because they no longer want to do their
housework. It varies," she said.
Ledyard has 30 units at Kings Corner Manor on Kings Highway comprising five ground-level buildings of six units each. And like other state-owned complexes in the area, Kings Corner Manor is booked up.
The couples, for whom Christensen said there are five designated units, tend to stay the longest - about 15 to 20 years. Three units are handicapped-accessible, and while the remaining 22 units for singles vacate more quickly, Kings Corner Manor still has a waiting list of close to 50.
Singles may wait two to three years for an opening, while couples and those with disabilities may wait from five to 10 years.
"I keep having people call up and want to get in, and I tell them I can't kick people out," she said.
But Christensen and other housing authority staff are also there to direct inquirers to other local options, often privately or federally owned.
The spaces in the state-owned complexes offer the basics - a kitchen, living room, bathroom and bedroom - with rent fixed at 27 percent of the renter's monthly adjusted income. At Kings Corner Manor, that means some spaces have a base rent as low as $82 a month, while others go as high as $650. The federal Department of Housing and Urban Development caps income at $45,5000 for singles and $52,000 for
Grasso Gardens and Pequot Village in Groton have 174 units all together, Jourdan said, with most units occupied by couples.
Even with other federally or privately owned complexes in town, Jourdan said there is still a waiting list of about 25 people, with those who are homeless or nearly homeless getting top priority. If a unit is not filled, she said, it is being prepared to be filled.
Part of the demand exists because these complexes no longer have the residency requirement of living in Groton beforehand and, under state law, also accept disabled people who may be younger than 62. Locals come in, but so do people from out of state, she said.
In Groton, each apartment has a base rent. The efficiency units go for $140 a month, up from $55 in recent years. Base rent for a one-bedroom is $200.