Easier living offered Elderly to get affordable housing in Belair Road area

68-unit Everall Gardens

Longtime residents can stay put without keeping up a house

July 28, 1996|By Lorraine Mirabella | Lorraine Mirabella,SUN STAFF

Like scores of aging Northeast Baltimore residents, Gertrude Comer can no longer care for her big house and yard. But the last thing the 79-year-old homeowner wants is a new neighborhood.

For years, residents of the Belair Road area have waited for affordable senior housing close to their shops, churches, bus lines and friends. In December, they'll get such a housing alternative when the 68-unit, four-story Everall Gardens opens at Belair Road and Everall Avenue.

With the building nearly half-complete, the Baltimore Corporation for Housing Partnerships has approved eight applicants and is screening nine others, said John Brandenburg, executive director of the developer of the $4.6 million project.

"When we planned Everall, we had a long-standing request to have some elderly housing in the northeast part of Baltimore City," Brandenburg said. "It's been well-received by the community organization, and there seems to be substantial requests for housing in the area."

Longtime area residents who can live independently will be the likeliest tenants, he said.

"They are living in the home by themselves, and it's no longer a suitable living environment," he said. "Or they might live in an apartment where there are too many stairs, and they need

something on one level or access to an elevator. Or, by virtue of the loss of a spouse, the income will be reduced."

At Everall -- all one-bedroom apartments to rent for $360 or $425 per month -- residents will have access to an elevator, a community room and the services of an on-site resident manager.

The senior housing project is the fourth in the city for Housing Partnerships, formed more than a decade ago to build or renovate housing for sale or lease. The nonprofit group has developed senior apartments with a mix of public and private financing, including state and city loans and a federal tax credit program, helping keep rents in the $300 to $400 range.

Other projects include a 66-unit building that opened in 1993 at the corner of Pennsylvania and North avenues, 22 apartments in a converted convent that opened in 1994 on 27th Street, and 30 units in a renovated warehouse at the corner of Federal Street and Harford Avenue, which opened in December. Only five apartments in all are now available, Brandenburg said. The developer also has proposed an 84-unit building for seniors on Park Heights Avenue near Northern Parkway.

To develop Everall, Housing Partnerships has a $2.2 million permanent construction loan from American National Savings Bank, along with a $1.6 million loan from the city through the federal HOME program and a $1 million state loan.

"We know there's a need in the community," said Joseph M. Solomon, executive vice president of American National. "What we have found is a lot of people want to stay in the community in an apartment that is reasonably priced and located where they've spent a number of years."

Comer, who has lived on Belair Road for 45 years, says she is one of them. Her 88-year-old sister, who lives in an apartment, is another.

"She wants to be independent, and so do I," Comer said. "We'd just like to be on the same floor so I can look in on her. I would like to stay in my neighborhood and not have to repair an old house."

Comer and her sister are among dozens of residents from areas such as Belair-Edison, Parkside, Gardenville and Hamilton who have expressed interest in senior housing, said Barbara Ruland, director of community services for Harbel Community Organization Inc., which is helping Housing Partnerships find qualified tenants.

At Everall, 28 units will be reserved for single tenants with a monthly income of $820 to $1,529 and for two-person households with monthly income of $820 to $1,745. Forty apartments will be for single tenants earning $1,530 to $1,835 a month or for two-person households earning $1,746 to $2,095 a month. Tenants must be 62 or older.

Pub Date: 7/28/96

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