Archdioceses work to meet need for low-income housing

.- Archdioceses across the U.S. are assisting families and seeking to alleviate their hardship by providing low-income housing. Two archbishops will bless recently completed low-income housing projects this week.

Cardinal Justin Rigali of Philadelphia will bless the home of Antonio Moreno and his family today in the St. Hugh Neighborhood of Philadelphia.

The house is the first completed by the Archdiocesan Office for Community Development in its initiative to rehabilitate 17 formerly vacant, blighted houses in the area for low- to moderate-income homeownership.

The archdiocese launched the housing initiative at the request of neighborhood residents. It is working in partnership with the Hispanic Association of Contractors and Enterprises.

A contribution from Beneficial Savings Bank through the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development's Neighborhood Assistance Program, along with subsidies from the City of Philadelphia's Homeownership Rehabilitation Program Funding provided support for the initiative.

The archdiocese began to renovate the property in November 2005 and Moreno purchased the house in July 2006. The home had been seized in a drug raid prior to the archdiocese taking possession of it.

As part of the ceremony, Cardinal Rigali is also to present a crucifix to the Moreno family.

The Office for Community Development was established in 2001 to serve as a catalyst for the revitalization of distressed neighborhoods. Its present focus is on the Kensington section of Philadelphia and vicinity. The office is also assisting in the development of St. John Neumann Place senior housing at the site of the former St. John Neumann High School in South Philadelphia.

In Washington,D.C, Archbishop Donald Wuerl will dedicate Grace House, a 32-unit assisted-living residence, providing much needed housing for low- and moderate-income senior citizens in Silver Spring. It was completed this month.

Archbishop Wuerl will be joined for the Oct. 17 dedication by local officials, Fr. Peter Sweeney, pastor of Our Lady of Grace Parish; and Jim Brown, the president of Victory Housing, which provides affordable housing for seniors and families in the archdiocese through public-private partnerships. Victory Housing operates a total of 17 communities in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

In addition to resident rooms with private bathrooms and kitchenettes, the newly constructed house features a dining room, a living room with a fireplace and adjoining solarium, library, television room, wellness center, and an outdoor porch with outdoor seating areas.

Financing for the $5.6 million development includes: a $2.8 million low-cost loan from Montgomery County; a $2.1 million loan from United Bank; a land donation worth $640,000 from Victory Housing; and, a grant of $50,000 from the Maryland Affordable Housing Trust.

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