What began with the construction of Basilica Place in Baltimore City in 1981 has expanded to include 22 Catholic Charities Senior Housing apartment communities for low- to moderate-income seniors in Anne Arundel, Baltimore, Harford and Garrett counties and Baltimore City. In acknowledgment of the inaugural building’s 30-year anniversary and the presence of Catholic Charities Senior Housing Communities in Baltimore City, a celebration will be held at Basilica Place on April 13th. Additional celebrations will be held throughout the year, one in each of the other counties served.
Senior Housing Director Dale McArdle, who joined the agency in 1989 as the administrator of housing programs, was hired when only four communities existed: Catholic Charities Senior Housing at Basilica Place, DePaul House, St. Charles and the under-construction Starner Hill. The development of the HUD-funded Coursey Station was his first project. Over the years, McArdle has overseen the construction of 19 senior developments, refining the process with each new project.
Of the many projects McArdle has managed, there is one he singles out. He was able to secure funds for the adaptive reuse of the old Jenkins Nursing Home to become St. Joachim independent-living apartments that opened in 1995. “When the decision to build a new nursing home was made, we did not have a use for the abandoned building,” says McArdle, noting that failure to secure funding would have resulted in having a vacant building in the middle of the campus.
“Our goal for each community is to find the best site possible,” says McArdle. Variables include selecting property in an area of appreciating land values, in-fill sites that are close to transportation, shopping, hospitals and other essential services. For Senior Housing residents, the communities have often exceeded expectations.
Eighty-three year old William Hartman moved into St. Joachim House in September of 2009 from a single-family home in Baltimore City where he lived for the past 50 years. His niece had learned of St. Joachim House upon visiting a family friend who lived there. She told Hartman about it, and together, they completed and submitted an application. But when the time approached to move, Hartman was reluctant to give up his home. It was the promise of a new dog from his niece that finally convinced him. He rescued his dog, Moochie, from the pound and will tell anyone who will listen that “moving here saved two lives.”
Pierina McVicker loves living at St. Luke’s Place and participates in the Congregate Housing Services Program that provides housekeeping services. She says that she does not have to do any cooking, her apartment is cleaned every week, and if you need anything, the staff is always ready to help. She says, “At my age, 91, it could not be any better.”
“I always wanted us to be the best—plain and simple,” says McArdle. “I wanted to be located in the best communities, to build the best building we could afford and wanted smart, dedicated, motivated people managing each community to provide services that enhance the quality of life of our residing seniors.” Judging by the ongoing demand for resident applications, Senior Housing has achieved its goal.