The John J. Carroll apartments were squat, brick public housing buildings built in 1966 along Chestnut Hill Avenue. After over 50 years of use, the buildings had become "obsolete," according to the Boston Housing Authority, and the three-story walkups were not accessible for elder residents and people with disabilities.

So in 2019, the Boston Housing Authority partnered with 2Life Communities to redevelop the apartments and double the number of affordable units for seniors. The new J.J. Carroll House officially opened in Brighton Monday.

The complex adds 142 new senior living apartments, along with a Program of All-inclusive Care for the Elderly (PACE) center that provides medical and recreation services. Local and federal officials celebrated the new facility at Monday’s ribbon-cutting, as Lt. Gov. Kim Driscoll put it, as “the intersection of housing affordability and being able to age in place with dignity.”

For 71-year-old resident Beverly Gilbert, her new apartment in the J.J. Carroll House was several years in the making. She had previously applied to other 2Life Communities in Brookline and Newton. When she saw construction first starting on Chestnut Hill Avenue in 2020, she prayed that, this time around, her application would be accepted.

“I would close my eyes and I would pray. I would say, ‘Father God, get me in there. I want to be over there. I want to be a 2Life girl,’” Gilbert said at the opening ceremony.

Gilbert worked as a certified nursing assistant for 45 years, but was laid off in 2020. That year she also learned she’d need spinal surgery, after already having had two knee replacements. The 14 stairs at her old apartment made mobility difficult.

“This was a very hard time. I felt vulnerable,” she said. She wanted a home where she could be more comfortable.

2Life residents are selected by a lottery system and the wait lists can be years-long. Finally, Gilbert's application was accepted and she settled in and met new people at the J.J. Carroll House, where the apartments are designed for adaptive living to meet a variety of physical needs, as well as a variety of income levels.

“If 70 is when you start living and being more active, then bring it,” Gilbert said.

MassHousing CEO Chrystal Kornegay praised this project and other affordable senior buildings for not just improving seniors’ lives now, but the lives of seniors in the future.

“When we're talking about this work, it’s generational work,” Kornegay said. “It’s not just impacting Miss Beverly. It’s impacting Miss Beverly in 20, 30, 40, 50 years and allows us all to be better ancestors, to leave the place better than when we found it.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren said the commonwealth needs more projects like J.J. Carroll House to help fix the housing crisis, and that she’ll continue to fight for federal funding to increase affordable housing.

“We have to build more homes. We need more of every kind of housing ... housing for seniors, housing for people with disabilities, housing for first-time homebuyers, housing for veterans, you name it,” Warren said.

Warren was joined by local officials including Boston Housing Authority administrator Kenzie Bok, City Councilor Ruthzee Louijeune and Mayor Michelle Wu. Federal and state officials also made an appearance, including U.S. Rep. Ayanna Pressley and Housing & Livable Communities Secretary Ed Augustus. Monday’s ribbon-cutting took place in the shadow of the new modern apartment building, designed by MASS Design Group.

Augustus praised federal and state leaders for prioritizing housing, including the 2021 MBTA Communities Law and Gov. Maura Healey and Driscoll’s $4 billion Affordable Homes Act, which is still pending in the Legislature.

“We need to do all of those things in partnership with each other to build more units, so more prayers can be answered and more people have dignity, a home,” Augustus said.