How Jefferson Center got its start

Second floor patio with screen
Jefferson Center has a wonderful story to tell. As far back as 1958 a group of Sarasota Unitarians had concerns about the scarcity of retirement housing in the state of Florida. In 1965 funding was secured from the Federal government to support this low-cost not-for-profit, retirement housing development project. Through donations and government funding Jefferson Center became a reality in Sarasota. In 1968 Jefferson Center was formally dedicated and the first residents moved in.

Over the years JC has provided a comfortable, safe home for so many residents who need affordable housing. To apply, applicants must be 62 years of age or older, their income verified to meet HUD-established income limits. Credit, criminal background and landlord verification checks are also done.

JC is open to all persons that meet these requirements regardless of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, familial status or disability in compliance with the Fair Housing Act.

JC is situated one block from the Sarasota Bay, is an attractive 10-story building with 209 efficiency and one-bedroom apartments that rent for under $600 a month. Rent includes all utilities and basic cable television.

We currently have 230 residents. A well-stocked library, lounge, recreation room provide an opportunity for socializing with neighbors. A laundry and beauty shop/barber shop is conveniently located on the first floor.

There are three patios; one screened-in patio on the second floor overlooks approximately four acres of gardens and walk areas.

Our Hospitality Desk is staffed by a resident volunteer.

JC schedules its 20-passenger bus for shopping trips, luncheons, and recreational trips to museums and miscellaneous events.

Through a federal grant, a Social Service Coordinator provides information and referral services to link our residents with community resources. And an active tenant association plans monthly activities for everyone to enjoy.

In 2006, JC Administrator Dawn Lucido started a major writing campaign to our political leaders about the need for affordable housing. She sent letters to senators, congressmen and representatives and included a copy of 70+ letters from residents relating why they are thankful for JC. Here is an excerpt from one:

"When you wake up one morning and realize you're a senior citizen it is more than a little frightening. The 'you' that fit in with all that was around you now seems to be too much effort. At JC your fears seem to fade away. You are now one of many. Thank you, Jefferson Center, for the security of daily life, friendships and so many activities. You are indeed the security blanket for so many."

Mrs. Lucido was told at a conference that those letters immensely helped to prevent cutting funds for housing for the elderly.