Alums join forces on affordable housing

Deirdre Houlihan DiCara ’77 with Josh Kelly ’17

The shared goal of addressing housing needs in Northwestern, Conn., brought Josh Kelly ’17 and Deirdre Houlihan DiCara ’77 together in fall 2023 to collaborate on an affordable housing project.

Kelly, who is now the CEO of the Thames Valley Council for Community Action, previously served as the town manager and CEO in Winchester, Conn., where he crossed paths with DiCara. She is executive director of FISH/Friends in Service to Humanity of Northwestern CT, which seeks to end hunger and homelessness in the region.

A new housing development project is underway thanks to a partnership between the Town of Winchester and the Winchester Housing Partners nonprofit, which is chaired by DiCara.

The two alums worked together to arrange the sale of one of the town’s former elementary school buildings (the Batcheller School) to the nonprofit to create 37 affordable housing units in Winchester. (They are pictured sitting in front of it.)

“Housing is desperately needed in this area as the region works to combat unaffordable housing costs and rents,” said Kelly, who majored in political science.

DiCara, who majored in urban studies, said, “There is such a need for affordable housing nationwide. The trend we are seeing is with our seniors who live on Social Security and families who must choose between paying rent, insurance, buying food, and the costs of raising a family.”

The Winchester Housing Partners hope to secure grants to begin renovation work by the summer of 2025 with an anticipated ribbon cutting on the 37 affordable housing units within three years. There will be one- and two-bedroom apartments, as well as a few studios.

“I feel proud of our hard work,” Kelly said, “and I feel honored to have worked with Deirdre and her team to make this needed investment in the community.”