Sliding onto a couch in the handsomely appointed living room at her home in Marydale Retirement Village, Norma Stephenson has a smile on her face.
She says it’s not unusual for her.
“I’m just so excited about it,” said the 77-year-old retiree who was preparing for the arrival of Bishop Malooly and the long-awaited rededication of Marydale.
“I’m one of those seniors that prepared for retirement at a late age. I was raising a family. I said to the Lord ‘My dream is to have a little house with a front door and back door with a cross breeze.’ And he brought me to Marydale. I was so grateful.”
Stephenson is especially grateful recently as she demonstrated May 2 at the rededication of the affordable housing community in Newark managed by the Diocese of Wilmington Catholic Charities through Catholic Ministry to the Elderly Inc. A complete renovation of the 18-acre Marydale complex finished this year and included more than $8 million of improvements.
Bishop Malooly led the rededication ceremony at the senior housing community following a nearly two-year campus renovation of apartment interiors and exteriors as well as community facilities. The complex consists of 108 one-bedroom, garden-style apartments arranged in a series of nine courtyards for seniors who qualify as low-income.
“As I went around, there were a lot of happy-camper faces,” the bishop said. He said the complex had been “in dire need” of upgrade and is critical for “people in my age group.”
“It’s a creative, innovative project that will have benefit for decades to come,” Bishop Malooly said.
The funding for Marydale’s remodeling came through a federal program that spurs banks, corporations and financial groups to invest in community projects to gain low-income housing tax credits, according to Richelle Vible, executive director of Catholic Charities in the diocese. Delaware State Housing Authority manages the low-income housing tax credit program in Delaware. Citizens Bank also provided construction financing for Marydale.
“This is affordable housing at its best,” said Anas Ben Addi, executive director of the Delaware State Housing Authority.
As temperatures climbed into the 80s during the outdoor tour, people were happy for the break in months of wintry weather, especially given that snow and frigid temperatures postponed the rededication originally scheduled for earlier this year.
“I’m really happy, as general contractor, that the air conditioning worked today,” joked Glenn Brooks, president of Leon N. Weiner & Associates (LNWA). Catholic Ministry to the Elderly partnered with LNWA, a nationally recognized homebuilder and developer of affordable housing, to rehabilitate the facility. LNWA was also the original developer and construction manager of the community.
Marydale originally opened in the spring of 1981. Bishop Thomas J. Mardaga, sixth bishop of the diocese, presided at the grand opening.
In keeping with its purpose to provide safe, affordable, independent living for seniors, Catholic Ministry to the Elderly sought to undertake a full modernization and renovation of Marydale. The property receives rental assistance from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), and eligible residents pay no more than 30 percent of their adjusted income for rent.
The complex received exterior upgrades to resident buildings, including windows and exterior doors and light fixtures, new roofs, gutters, downspouts, siding and shutters, and accessible entry porches to designated handicap units. Interior resident unit upgrades included heat pumps, kitchen appliances, and hot water heaters, as well as new kitchen cabinets, countertops, low flow/energy saving bathroom fixtures, bathroom grab bars, interior doors, flooring and a sprinkler fire suppression system.
“I can’t think of anything that wasn’t replaced,” Vible said.
In Stephenson’s home just before the bishop’s arrival, she marveled at the beauty of the place where she’s lived nearly five years and now includes new appliances and the freshness of a new home. It’s made her dream-come-true even more fulfilling.
“I love my neighbors,” Stephenson said. “Everybody helps everybody. It’s a beautiful community.”