St. Joseph Manor, newest residence for low-income senior citizens, now open!

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POMPANO BEACH | A former general contractor with a multitude of health issues, Edward Tobey estimates that he might be living under a bridge — or worse — had he not been directed to a new residence for seniors sponsored by Catholic Health Services.

Sister Jill Bond, left, vice-president of Mission Advancement for Catholic Health Services, speaks with Nilda Fuentes following the Jan. 12 blessing and dedication of St. Joseph Manor Independent Living Facility, an archdiocesan-sponsored housing facility for low-income elderly in Pompano Beach.

Sister Jill Bond, left, vice-president of Mission Advancement for Catholic Health Services, speaks with Nilda Fuentes following the Jan. 12 blessing and dedication of St. Joseph Manor Independent Living Facility, an archdiocesan-sponsored housing facility for low-income elderly in Pompano Beach.

Edward Tobey, a new resident at St. Joseph Manor Independent Living Facility in Pompano Beach, shows the handicapped-friendly features in his apartment.

Edward Tobey, a new resident at St. Joseph Manor Independent Living Facility in Pompano Beach, shows the handicapped-friendly features in his apartment.

On a very limited income and in need of a handicapped-friendly facility, including an apartment with wheelchair-accessible kitchen and bathroom features, Tobey was accepted late last year at St. Joseph Manor, an independent living facility for the low-income elderly.

The four-story residence features 63 apartments for seniors with an average income of around $9,000 a year and an average rent of $200 a month or less. It has been fully occupied since September 2015.

“In desperation I called Catholic Housing and I got the last unit here,” said Tobey, a longtime Broward resident who could no longer live with relatives or afford to rent his own apartment, let alone a unit which could accommodate his mobility limitations.

“I was considering ending it all because I couldn’t find anything and I didn’t want to live under a bridge but since I came here I started doing little things: I started making my bed again, I started cooking real meals again,” he said. “It has been an uplifting experience. This is very special place and I thank God every day that I am here.”

Located adjacent to St. Joseph Haitian Mission in northern Broward, St. Joseph Manor was made possible largely through an $8 million federal housing grant. Archdiocesan officials say there is room on the property for additional apartments if federal funds become available for more subsidized seniors housing.

“When the next funding cycle comes around we would really like to expand this facility,” said Miami Archbishop Thomas Wenski, who presided at the blessing and dedication of St. Joseph Manor Jan. 12. “For many years this church of St. Joseph was one of my churches as a parish priest serving the Haitian community of South Florida at three places. This is a great day for Pompano, a great day for the church but especially for the residents here.”

Juana Mejia, director of Elderly Housing for Catholic Health Services, said the archdiocese had conducted an assessment and found a huge need for apartments for the elderly in the South Florida area.

The residents at St. Joseph Manor are approximately 85 percent Haitian-American, along with Spanish and English-speaking residents, Mejia said. She noted that there is generally a three-year waiting period for such apartments in Broward and Dade Counties.

The project is sponsored by the archdiocese’s Catholic Health Services/Catholic Housing Management, which already operates 15 other apartment complexes for low-income elderly in Miami-Dade and Broward counties.

“This is a mission that really provides housing for seniors in need and meets the needs of people who would otherwise not have a place to live,” said James Ball, chief operating officer for Catholic Health Services. He added that federal funding for additional low-income senior housing is not currently available.

“Catholic Health Services is exploring various options to obtain funding to continue to support and develop affordable housing,” Ball said.

St. Joseph Manor is open to elderly residents with household incomes at or below 50 percent of the area median income. Tenants need only pay 30 percent of their household income toward rent/utilities.

Nilda Duarte, a new resident at St. Joseph Manor, was beaming smiles at a reception following the dedication ceremony.

“A friend of mine in Coral Springs called for me when they announced this building and I was one of the last people to sign the papers to live here,” Duarte said.

She lives on the fourth floor with her pictures of Our Lady of Guadalupe and Padre Pio on display. “I like it here, the people are relaxed. Everyone is my friend.”

The new St. Joseph Manor is an Independent Living Facility and archdiocesan-sponsored housing residence for low-income elderly in Pompano Beach.