`Rural' senior housing planned

Construction is set to begin next month on 20 affordable homes

Project to cost $2.4 million

Union Bridge

December 24, 2003|By Sheridan Lyons | Sheridan Lyons,SUN STAFF

Work could begin next month in Union Bridge on a project designed to provide affordable homes for seniors who otherwise might not be able to stay in their community.

The Episcopal Housing Corp. will build Shriner Court as its first "rural project," said Daniel J. McCarthy, executive director of the independent nonprofit agency, which has been a partner in several projects in Baltimore.

The $2.4 million project will have 10 porch-front duplexes, designed to fit the Victorian character of the town, and a community building, McCarthy said. Each duplex building will have two 710-square-foot, one-bedroom units.

The agency hopes to start work next month and complete the project by late next year.

"We are eager to go," said McCarthy.

Under the arrangement, the housing corporation will be the development manager for the project, and Union Bridge will own and operate it when completed, said McCarthy and Union Bridge Mayor Bret D. Grossnickle.

"The project should help to fill the gap in the market for affordable housing in rural Carroll County," McCarthy said. Now, he said, seniors have to move away from their communities if they are not able to keep up their family homes.

"There's a need for it," Grossnickle agreed.

The mayor said he signed legal papers last week that make the planned project "a done deal."

Thelma W.L. Shriner donated the 2.67-acre parcel that is the site of the planned project to the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland, which then gave it to the housing ministries group founded in 1995, McCarthy said.

Shriner was 98 when she died in 1994. Among the accomplishments noted in her obituary were her earning a college degree in architectural drawing, serving as a Red Cross ambulance driver in World War I and having a passion for restoring houses, most in Frederick County but also including the 1790 house in Union Bridge now known as Hard Lodging.

She gave that building to the Historical Society of Carroll County.

She also designed and donated Union Bridge Community Center on Ladiesburg Road - near the site of the project to be named in her honor.

Funding for the senior housing project has been provided by the state's Partnership Rental Housing Project and the Community Development Block Grant program, by the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, and by the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta, McCarthy said.

McCarthy said no payment will be required on any loans if the income-level requirements set by the state are met: Tenants must earn less than 50 percent of the median income for the metropolitan area, which is $27,000.

The Episcopal Housing Corp. has developed a senior housing project in the Lafayette Square area of Baltimore, with other housing in the Collington Square, Reservoir Hill and Pimlico neighborhoods of the city.

Union Bridge, with a population of about 1,000, is Carroll's smallest municipality. "This is our first rural project," McCarthy said. "If it's the only one we ever do, then we've wasted a lot of the lessons we have learned."

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