Members of Allen Chapel AME Church broke ground the second Sunday in November for its soon-to-be-developed 91-unit senior housing complex. The senior home will be located on Alabama Ave. SE, directly across the street from the church and will stretch along Alabama down to Naylor Rd, across form the Stanton Elementary football field.
Pastor Michel E. Bell led the congregation in a march across the street after his Sunday sermon where he thanked Vision of Victory LLC, the non-profit that grew out of the church and spearheaded the project, where he is the Chairman of the board. He said, “We are investing in our immediate community!” He also thanked his development team: District Development Group (DDG), Enterprise Community Partners and the public partners in the project, D.C. Housing Finance Agency (DCHFA) and the D.C. Department of Housing and Community Development (DHCD). DHCD contributed 5 million to the approximately 15 million-dollar project.
Community leaders were on hand to help Allen Chapel celebrate the occasion. Ward 8 Council Member Marion Barry gave opening remarks about the work that Pastor Bell has put into the project. He also lauded LaRuby May, Vision of Victory’s Executive Director for leading the project. May said, “It has been my wish to do something for seniors in Ward 8. Many are under housed due to financial hardship and I’m just glad we are able to help meet people’s needs.”
The senior housing will serve low-income seniors age 62 and older. It will help address the growing need for affordable housing in the city’s most economically challenged ward, where unemployment is high among other statistics.
Darrell Gaskin is the Advisory Neighborhood Commissioner for the single member district of 8B03 and the chair of the 8B ANC. He said he was happy to be at the groundbreaking ceremony because he fought for the project among his constituents and community members. “I was responsible for helping the community get on board with this project. It is great because it is providing much needed housing to an overlooked population,” he said.
A number of other outside donors help contribute to the project, like the National Housing Partnership Foundation (NHPF), a non-profit organization dedicated to meeting the housing needs of low-to-moderate families and seniors. Chief Executive Officer of the NHPF, Richard Burns, attended the groundbreaking ceremony, as his organization played an integral role in helping the project get off its feet. Burns said that by the beginning of the next decade there would be many more seniors than exists today with unmet housing needs.
DHCD director John Hall said churches are great organizations for DHCD to partner with. “We look for projects that will serve a community need. This project has done just that,” he said. Principal of DDG and lead developer on the project, Phinis Jones said that he has been working on this project for some time. “I understand the need of seniors and I was committed to working on this project until it came into fruition.”
The project is slated to be complete by fall of 2012.