Colbert Square provides housing, comfort for older residents

By JUAN GARCIA

WOODSTOCK, Ga. – Colbert Square is providing low-income apartments for adults 62 years of age or older looking to keep their independence.

Manager Stacey Hays said the four-story building opened in September 1990 and has been in operation ever since. According to a brochure, people looking to be put on the waiting list must have an annual income that does not exceed $23,900 for a single person. Hays herself has worked 17 years at the apartment building.

The property offers open spaces and a smoke area outside sine smoking is not permitted indoors. Hays said Colbert Square offers two different floor plans: one with a one bedroom and another as an open concept loft style space. She does say she wishes the floor plans were different.

“It would be nice if all of our apartments were one bedroom,” Hays said. “There seems to be more of a desire from the residents.”

Colbert Square is part of a larger property management company called Mansermar. Hays said Mansermar builds or buys properties specifically to turn them into low income housing.

“They will accumulate the property that has fallen to the wayside, per se, and then kind of try to rehab it and try to reestablish it and get it back to top quality,” said Hays.

A typical day for Hays consists of answering phone calls, emails, tending to any guest complaints and making sure that everything is running smoothly in the property. She puts in between 45 and 48 hours per week and has an assistant to help with any problems she may encounter.

Hays said that her favorite part about working at Colbert Square are that the 70 residents who live there, who are like grandparents to her. She said that the hardest part about her job is watching the health of her residents decline. She said that the oldest resident to live there during her time lived to be 100 years old.

Since Colbert Square has something similar to a home owner’s association. Hays said the association gathers money, celebrates birthdays, and even holds games of bingo several times a month. One of the residents, Graciela Perez talks about her experience living in Colbert Square.

Perez moved to Colbert Square in August 2015, living there for about eight months with her 10-year-old Pomeranian. She said she loves living there, but the decision to live there was hard. She used to live with one of her children but decided to move out when her grandkids grew to be teenagers and she felt less useful.

When she first moved there she was worried she was not going to fit in because she is not originally from this country and still carries an accent. She said she immediately felt welcome.

“Everyone received me with so much love and the girls in the office are divine, so much love,” Perez said.

Perez said there are nurses that come and help with medicine and shots, the bus comes and takes them grocery shopping once a week, and the other residents all get together and play bingo and celebrate birthdays.

She said if she ever needs anything or has any complaints, management fixes it almost immediately. She feels very safe because of the security cameras surrounding the building and the people who live and work there.

Colbert Square is a safe living environment for older people who still want their independence but do not want the maintenance of owning a home. It is for an adult who has a limited income but also does not want to sacrifice too much and be surrounded by loving caring people.

Living at Colbert Square means living independent without ever being alone.

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