Church plans housing for seniors

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, January 5, 2011

By Emily Ford
Affordable housing for low-income seniors planned for the Sacred Heart Catholic Church campus is still a year away.
But Jerry Widelski, director of the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte Housing Corporation, said the development will be worth the wait.
“The curb appeal and quality of the product is going to be terrific,” said Widelski, whose nonprofit organization is developing Good Shepherd Gardens and Good Shepherd Manor in partnership with the N.C. Housing Corporation.
Good Shepherd Gardens, a 19-unit apartment complex, is expected to open in 2012, Widelski said.
A larger complex with 54 units dubbed Good Shepherd Manor will follow, possibly in 2014, if the diocese can win competitive housing tax credits from the federal government, he said.
Tenants will not have to be Catholic.
Salisbury lacks housing for seniors. According to the 2010-2014 Consolidated Plan, the city needs 687 additional units.
Good Shepherd Gardens will offer subsidized housing for seniors aged 62 and older who have a maximum annual income of $15,000. Rent will vary, with tenants paying one-third of their income for rent and utilities.
HUD will subsidize the rent to market rate for the developer, the Catholic Diocese of Charlotte Housing Corporation.
Construction should start in September, Widelski said.
Starting this summer, the Housing Corporation will compile a list of interested potential tenants. Widelski will turn over the names to a HUD-approved management company, which will conduct a formal application process.
Applicants will go through a screening process, including criminal background and credit checks, previous rent history and income verification, he said.
“There are very strict rules,” he said.
As a mission to develop affordable housing for seniors and people with special needs, the 46-county Catholic Diocese of Charlotte created the nonprofit Housing Corporation in 2002, Widelski said.
The organization’s first project, 40-unit Curlin Commons, has opened on N.C. 150 in Mooresville.
Good Shepherd Manor in Salisbury will be similar, Widelski said.
Although the diocese received approval from Salisbury City Council for the manor project first, the housing corporation had to postpone the development until 2012 due to the economy and lack of federal low-income housing tax credits, Widelski said.
The organization will compete for the credits next year, he said.
“It’s not automatic,” he said. “But we’ve very hopeful and prayerful.”
The manor will serve seniors aged 55 and older with annual incomes of between $15,000 and $25,000.
Manor tenants also will pay one-third of their income in rent and utilities.
The diocese began the low-income housing ministry in Mooresville and Salisbury because it already owned the land in both cities, Widelski said. Eventually, Widelski said he would like to see similar projects throughout the region.
“There is quite a need all over the diocese, especially with our aging population,” he said.
For the Salisbury projects, Garanco Inc. will serve as general contractor. The architect is Tise-Kiester.
Local architect Gray Stout is the architect for the Sacred Heart master plan and guided the two housing projects through city regulations.
Salisbury City Council gave the nod recently to both developments by amending the existing Sacred Heart Conditional District Overlay. Zoning will remain Residential Mixed-Use.
Contact reporter Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.