On September 14th, the Villa Michelangelo Apartments held a festive gathering to commemorate the 15th Anniversary of the Villa Michelangelo Apartments, site of the former Michelangelo School. This partnership includes the ABCD North End/West End Neighborhood Service Center (NE/WE NSC), East Boston Community Development Corporation (CDC), and North End Waterfront Health. This project originally came about in the mid 1990s from the demise of rent control, which left over 900 elderly, handicapped, and disabled people vulnerable to soaring rents. The NE/WE NSC and their partners’ proposal to develop 71 units of HUD 202 (elderly) housing at the old Michelangelo School was chosen among nine applications to develop Villa Michelangelo, which is home to approximately 97 residents.
The Villa Michelangelo Apartments is uniquely located. It is annexed to the ABCD NE/WE NSC, which has a drop-in center and a wide variety of educational and recreational programming for elders as well as social services-referrals, basic needs assistance, legal referrals, case management, and much more. As folks may remember, the North End Waterfront Health had an adult day care center onsite at the Villa Michelangelo Apartments, which closed due to funding. Seniors still access many health services at North End Waterfront Health and have gotten to know and depend on their personable staff.
If you speak with some of the elders who live in the Villa Michelangelo Apartments, you will hear how many have lived in their neighborhoods for 70 years or more and that their rent was $12 a month back in 1930. They shake their heads in wonder as the same apartment rents for $2,800 a month plus utilities, minimum. Were it not for the Villa Michelangelo Apartments, nearly 100 North Enders would have had to leave their homes due to the demise of rent control and gentrification.
Special guests included Representative Aaron Michlewitz, who spoke fondly with seniors about the site of the former middle school. Aaron shared that in the 1980s the building was still set up for classrooms, and that he took computer classes. He earned a chuckle from the crowd when he shared that he would rather have been at the Mirabella Pool! Other seniors affectionately remember the former classrooms now occupied by their apartments. One resident says that her apartment was the sewing room, as the front windows allowed plenty of light for sewing. The afternoon flew by as residents, friend, and community partners ate, danced, laughed, and reminisced, to mark this special occasion. Congratulations, Villa Michelangelo Apartments!