By Rich Bockmann
South Jamaica’s Calvary Baptist Church took one step closer Tuesday toward building a long-awaited residence for seniors who are taking on the responsibility of raising their grandchildren.
“This has grown out of a need that we have had in our community that is unfortunately a growing need,” said the Rev. Victor Hall. The dream for the 58-unit housing facility grew out of the church’s grandparents support group, made up mostly of community members not associated with Calvary Baptist, Hall said.
“We’ve seen firsthand and these are very, very real needs that people in our community have and it’s helping a lot, and we just look forward to this facility. We believe that it’s going to bless a lot of families, a lot of grandparents raising children, a lot of seniors.”
Hall stood alongside Deacon Kent Garrett in U.S. Rep. Gregory Meeks’ (D-Jamaica) office Tuesday morning as they accepted a $550,000 grant the congressman secured for the Calvary Grandparent Residence from the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York.
“This is why Calvary Baptist Church is doing such a great job,” Meeks said. “This is not just for Calvary members. It’s the church reaching out to the community.”
The church plans to break ground on the northwest corner of 112th Road and Guy R. Brewer Boulevard in about a year. The affordable housing project was first announced back in 2009, though procuring the land, the proper variances and, of course, the funding have taken some time.
The approximately $16 million project will go toward constructing a building with 58 apartments, most of which will have two bedrooms and two bathrooms, the planners said.
Federal Home Loan is one of 12 government-sponsored banks chartered to provide low-cost loans to institutions. Director Edwin Reed said every year the bank sets aside 10 percent of its earnings for its Affordable Housing Program.
“What we have found is that by investing in projects, then we provide the foundation for continued community development and growth,” he said. “But we do this because we believe banking and finance is more than about the numbers. It’s about the people.”
He also encouraged southeast Queens homeowners who have mortgages with Federal Home Loan’s member banks — which include Citibank and Chase — to apply for the Fresh Start program. Through the program, the bank subsidizes the cost of home refinancing for low- to moderate-income households.
Reach reporter Rich Bockmann by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 718-260-4574.