Watch the blessing and groundbreaking service via Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez’s Facebook:  https://www.facebook.com/ArchbishopPerez/videos/945057472673702/

Plans are underway to transform a vacant lot at South Broad and Ellsworth Streets, located next to the National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia, into a five-story mixed-use space that incorporates the Shrine’s vision for the Cascia Center with affordable housing for seniors as they age in place within their community.

Today at a special ceremony, Catholic Housing and Community Services of the Archdiocese of Philadelphia (CHCS) broke ground for Saint Rita Place, a new affordable housing community for independent seniors in South Philadelphia. The facility will be the fifth of its nature opened by CHCS.

Archbishop Nelson J. Pérez presided over the blessing and groundbreaking service. He was joined by Reverend Michael Di Gregorio, O.S.A., the Prior Provincial of the Augustinian Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova; Mr. James Amato, Secretary for Catholic Human Services; Ms. Heather Huot, Director of CHCS; members of the CHCS Board of Directors; City and Government Officials, project development partners; and community supporters.

Archbishop Pérez said, “In the midst of COVID-19, which brings so much uncertainty and fear in the lives of so many people, to be able to do this groundbreaking after so many years is a sign of great, great hope. This development will provide much needed affordable senior housing, as well as a Center that will promote peace, safety, and well-being for members of this local community. We gather with heartfelt gratitude to almighty God for the commencement of construction of Saint Rita Place and the Cascia Center which will soon stand on this property as a testament to both the Church’s commitment to our beloved seniors and to the call to be instruments of peace and justice in our communities and the world.”

Ms. Heather Huot, Director of CHCS said, “Today is truly a joyful celebration. It marks the fruition of a vision that began over a decade ago. Saint Rita Place and The Cascia Center will provide a beacon of hope to the community and meet the ever-increasing need for affordable senior housing. In doing so, it will bring Saint Rita’s charism of peace and healing to all. CHCS is proud to partner with the National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia on this remarkable development.”

The new construction is being designed by Cecil Baker + Partners and will complement the façade of the National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia, which is located adjacent to the south side of the complex. The building will consist of 46 one-bedroom apartments for income eligible seniors 62 and older on the second through fifth floors. All units will be accessible for people with physical disabilities. Features of the building will include a community room, food cupboard, laundry facilities, resident lounges, as well as on-site social services to assist residents with aging in place. Through CHCS’ extensive experience with service to seniors, combined with its broad array of program offerings and partnerships, Saint Rita Place will feature a proactive model that anticipates and addresses each resident’s unique needs.

Located on the ground floor, the Cascia Center will be a multi-purpose space for the work of community-building, peacemaking, and reconciliation. The 7,500 square foot Center will consist of offices, conference rooms, a kitchen, and facilities to serve the needs of individuals and groups who come as religious pilgrims to the National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia. The staff of the Shrine and the Augustinian Friars of the Province of Saint Thomas of Villanova will use the space to draw people together in friendship, education, and professional service to welcome, heal, and build bridges toward a more just and loving world.

In 2019, the Saint Rita Place development was awarded with a tax credit allocation of approximately $12 million by the Pennsylvania Housing Finance Agency (PHFA) and is partnering with RBC Capital Markets and Capital One for financing of the development. The Saint Rita Place development also received assistance from the City of Philadelphia, National Housing Trust Funds, Federal Home Loan Bank of Pittsburgh Affordable Housing Program Funds, and a private investment. The National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia will also contribute $1.4 million toward the cost of constructing The Cascia Center. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia and The National Shrine of Saint Rita of Cascia will be donating the land for the development.

Construction on the $18.3 million project is underway and the residence is expected to open in the Fall of 2021.


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