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Group aims to build housing for elderly


A nonprofit development corporation wants to build a 20-unit apartment building in Havre de Grace for elderly residents with low to moderate incomes.

The Annapolis-based company, Homes for America, also wants to use almost $140,000 from Havre de Grace's 9-year-old Community Development Block Grant to purchase land at Girard and Stokes streets, according to a presentation made last week to the City Council.

Rents for the one-bedroom units would range from $330 to $360 a month for residents age 62 and older with annual incomes from $12,000 to $23,700, said Nancy Rase, president of Homes for America.

In addition to seeking city grant money, the company has applied for a state-funded, rental-housing production loan of $559,000; a home loan of $300,000; and income tax credits expected to generate $650,000 from investors for the project. All but the rental-housing loan are federally funded programs administered by the state. The entire project is expected to cost $1.5 million, Ms. Rase said.

The three-story building would have a Victorian facade with front porch to fit with the neighborhood, said Robert Childers, president of Structures Resources, a construction company.

The City Council would have to designate the block grant money for the purchase of land, after holding a public hearing. Homes for America still must formally request that the council transfer the money for purchase of the land.

About $200,000 remains of a $420,000 community development block grant the Department of Housing and Urban Development awarded to the city in 1986, according to Stanley T. Ruchlewicz, director of the city planning department. The grant was to be used to extend city water and sewer lines to the site of a proposed motel on Route 155 near Interstate 95, but the motel wasn't built. After a 1990 reallocation, about $220,000 was used to reconstruct Pennington Avenue, to repave some lanes and to rehabilitate a house for a low-income resident.

The remaining money now is targeted for construction of wheelchair ramps on city sidewalks, with a small portion going to demolish vacant, dilapidated homes in the city, Mr. Ruchlewicz said.

Affordable housing is one of the greatest needs for elderly

residents in Harford County, according to James Macgill,

director of the Harford County Office on Aging.

"If you're retired and your income is limited, and in the meantime you're seeing your health care costs go up steadily . . . then you're going to have less for other things such as housing," Mr. Macgill said.

The Havre de Grace building would be an "independent living" community, with a few services, rather than an "assisted living" community, with more extensive care for residents, Ms. Rase said.

Residents could eat one subsidized meal a day together in the building and participate in arts and crafts and other activities. They could get blood pressure screening and other tests four times a year in the building and could have their groceries and medication delivered, Ms. Rase said. The specific activities and services would depend on what the residents want and what volunteers can provide, she said.

Independent living communities are especially attractive to Harford County's elderly, Mr. Macgill said. He said that most of the county's 25,000 residents over the age of 60 are between 60 and 75 and don't need the extensive services that people in their 80s and older often require. Affordability and easy access to shopping and transportation are the main concerns for most elderly residents, he said.

Havre de Grace residents would have "priority" over other applicants for apartments, Ms. Rase said. "We came because we thought that there would be demand and need here," she said.

Ms. Rase resigned as deputy director of the state Department of Housing and Community Development last year and along with the former director of the agency, Trudy P. McFall, formed the nonprofit development corporation.

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