LISC National

Affordable Country Living: Northfield Firehouse


Bob Petricone, president of Litchfield Housing Trust, is proud of their record in providing housing opportunities for families that earn below the median income. Litchfield has primarily owner-occupied housing, with few rental options. Younger families, service employees and people with handicaps tend to get closed out of the region’s escalating real estate market, but the town needs the energy they can bring.

“We need to find some way to bring younger families into the community, to help Litchfield maintain vitality and population growth. We can’t all be retirees! We need young people to do volunteer work, go to school board meetings and fill local jobs. When the town built a new firehouse, they abandoned the building they had been using, an old schoolhouse. We rehabbed it as two good-sized apartments with improved energy efficiency, one of them handicapped accessible. It’s occupied by a young man with a disability, who was raised here and can now live here with his own family, allowing him to function independently.”

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Brandon and Jen moved from nearby because they needed more room for her family to join them. They had heard about Northfield Firehouse when it was being developed, and drove by to take a look during construction. They really wanted to stay in town because of the school system, and also to be close to Jen’s job in Torrington. The prime consideration was accessibility for Brandon, who is confined to a wheelchair and whose job allows him to work from home on his computer. “I can go outside in my wheelchair to take walks without worrying about traffic. We have lots of space. I’ve never been anywhere I could move around so freely.”

Richard working from his home office.
Jen, above, shared “It’s beautiful and quiet – we love it here. There’s lots of light. Since I work second shift, it’s a huge relief to be able to leave Brandon alone, knowing that he’s comfortable and safe.”
Dana and her niece

Dana lives in the second apartment, behind Brandon and Jen. Part of Jen’s large, extended family, she moved to Litchfield to be with them. Having her so close by provides additional security for Brandon, Jen and the kids. “I like that it’s quiet and convenient, because I work in town. We are part of a family.”