Seeking housing for elderly Project: Town officials are meeting with Episcopal Housing Corp. representatives about developing a 2.7-acre lot.

July 29, 1998|By Donna R. Engle | Donna R. Engle,SUN STAFF

Thelma W. L. Shriner hoped that the 2.7-acre lot in Union Bridge she donated to the Episcopal Church Diocese of Maryland would someday be used for housing for the elderly.

Her hope could come to fruition early in the next century.

In an effort spurred by Mayor Perry L. Jones Jr., town officials have been meeting with representatives of Episcopal Housing Corp., an independent agency that works with the diocese on ways to use properties not designated for church construction.

Shriner, a philanthropist and restorer of Colonial-era homes, designed Union Bridge Community Center on Ladiesburg Road, which she gave to the town in 1963. She donated the 2.7-acre lot near the center to the diocese about 25 years before her death in 1994. Her will included bequests to Carroll County and Frederick County hospitals, Episcopal churches, historical societies and animal protection organizations, as well as to individuals.

"The donor had expressed a desire that [the lot] be used for elderly housing, although not binding," said Daniel McCarthy, executive director of Episcopal Housing Corp. He said town officials also were interested in housing for senior citizens.

"We have a need for this type of housing in Union Bridge," said Jones, who initiated contact with Episcopal housing representatives about 18 months ago.

The project is in the preliminary stage, McCarthy said. Housing corporation officials are considering plans for 15 to 18 attached one-bedroom cottages for low-income senior citizens, with a central building that would contain a laundry, mailboxes and a management office.

McCarthy said the corporation doesn't have a construction timetable.

"If it is under construction by the turn of the century, I'll be happy," he said.

Proposed financing for the project will require Union Bridge to take ownership of the property. Episcopal Housing Corp. and town representatives are discussing financing construction through a state loan program that is limited to projects owned by town or county governments.

The Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development's Partnership Rental Housing Program provides state money to build or rehabilitate rental housing owned by local governments or housing authorities. The town government or housing authority is not required to repay the loan, as long as it is used for low-income housing.

Western Maryland Interfaith Housing Corp. worked with Frederick County government to use the state program to build apartments for low-income senior citizens in Woodsboro.

"It's a wonderful program," said Alice Cooper, Frederick County Department of Housing and Community Development director. "They pay for the infrastructure, and the county puts up the land."

For the Woodsboro project, the county spent $75,000 for off-site improvements. The state rental housing program financed the rest of the $2.8 million project, Cooper said. The apartments are limited to senior citizens with incomes of $7,000 to $16,000 a year. Rent is $240 a month, to cover management costs.

"It's not subsidized, but it breaks even," Cooper said. She said Frederick County hired a professional company because the county government has no experience in rental-unit management.

Pub Date: 7/29/98

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