Board of Directors
Linda S. Kantor
Dr. Edia Reyes
Social Service Worker
Diana T Cruz
Administrator of Programs
Jason J Hayes
Interim Executive Director
Hours of Operation
Mondays 10am - 3pm
Tuesday through Friday
8:00 am to 4:00 pm
Saturdays 8am - 12pm
Casa Otoñal was founded in 1976 to enable minority seniors (particularly Latinos) to maintain their cultural and personal dignity and to remain self-sufficient and productive during their senior adult years. The dream was to provide services that insure the security, independence and the "well-being" of our elders.
An outgrowth of Saint John the Evangelist Church on Sylvan Avenue, the designated Hispanic Roman Catholic Church in the City of New Haven, Casa Otoñal was named a Senior Center for the City of New Haven and a Nutrition Site for the elderly in 1976. These designations allowed Casa to provide transportation to the Senior Center for all elderly residing throughout the city, and to provide social services and a hot noontime meal at the space rented from Saint John's Church.
The program and services of Casa Otoñal continued to grow under the care of Joseph Odell and Mariana Malave plus a dedicated volunteer Board of Directors, which included Iraida Ortega, Isabel and Carlos Romero. After several years Odell noted that due to cultural and linguistic barriers, Hispanics felt uncomfortable applying to existing senior housing and needed a welcoming community of their own. A community with a bilingual - bicultural environment. A proposal and necessary plans were submitted to the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) by Linda Kantor and Jim Vlock for the creation by Casa Otoñal of a congregate housing complex for minority elderly. After much work, the dream became a reality. Designed by world-renown architect, Cesar Pelli, the 105 apartments, public area and offices were completed in July 1986 under the leadership of Lucy Collazo. The garden courtyard was designed by Diana Balmeri, and completed in 1987.
In 1991 with the aid of private contributions, a historic site was renovated on the corner across the street from Casa Otoñal at 148 Sylvan Avenue. Now known as Casa Linda, ("Beautiful House") it houses programs that provide training in English as a second language, our training program in child development for those wanting to receive the national CDA credential and Connecticut child care licensing and activities conducive to Hispanic heritage art and urban farming.
In 1993, Casa Otoñal began operating the intergenerational after-school program and summer camp for the seniors and neighborhood children at Casa Linda. The skills learning, homework and computer programs for youth and elders were so successful that the dilapidated shed at the rear of Casa Linda were removed and rebuilt into the Casa Otoñal Community Center. Under the supervision and design of architect Edward C. Johnson, volunteers and students of Eli Whitney Regional Vocational Technical School Completed the Construction of the New Casa Community Center in the Fall or 1996.
Our most recent project, known as Casa Familia is a very innovative one for the country: this second housing complex exists for custodial grandparents. This new 36-unit complex is adjacent to our Casa Otonal, Inc. properties, directly across the street from the anchor building. The Casa Otoñal family - board, staff, residents and participants - rightfully believe that Casa Otoñal is a vibrant example of community development and neighborhood revitalization.
Over the past 38 years, Casa Otoñal has grown from a small group of Hispanic elders, meeting in a church, to a five-property campus that provides an oasis of beauty and security in the midst of the inner city Hill section of New Haven. Our mission has expanded from serving only elders to serving children and families. Our array of programs includes a full complement of supportive and social services to seniors, ranging from housing, transportation, case management, health screenings, English and literacy classes and a Senior Center featuring a daily ethnic meal to a childcare development training program for adults to an intergenerational after school and summer program for neighborhood children.
Casa Otoñal's history of service to New Haven's ever growing Latino populations has made "The Pride of the Hispanic Community".