Diana Zoga

Church Tackles Affordable Housing Challenges

Sunday afternoon, Bethlehem Baptist Church in Mansfield hosted a ground breaking for an apartment complex that will give seniors a new affordable housing option in the face of rising housing costs displacing seniors on fixed incomes.

"There’s a huge need for it," said Hallie Kates-Calloway. "We’ve seen people that are saying 'I can’t afford to live in my house anymore because of A, B, or C.'"

Kates-Calloway works at the church. From her office window, she will watch construction crews build Bethlehem’s Pioneer Place on five and a half acres of land purchased by the church.

The complex will have 135 one and two bedroom units offered to seniors 55 and older. Rent prices will be determined on a sliding scale, factoring in monthly income.

Pastor Michael Evans, Sr. said he expects rents would range from $300 to $900 a month.

"Anytime you have cuts that take place in the government or what have you, we have to step in, we have to fill the gap," said Pastor Evans.

He said the church began looking into the possibility of building affordable housing 12 years ago. The church secured the land, a tax credit from the Texas Department of Housing and Community Affairs and lined up partners willing to invest in affordable housing for seniors.

"If you spent many of your productive years building up this city, why not be the person to take advantage of the amenities that you helped to build, helped come to life," said Evans. "So many people are moving in now we want to make sure that our seniors have quality safe secure housing."

Evans said the church does not intend to serve as the landlord to the tenants once the complex is completed in summer of 2019. The church established the Historic West Mansfield Texas Community Development Corporation and will use a management company to manage the property, said Evans.

The complex will be located at 1197 W. Broad Street in Mansfield. Plans include a community garden, walking paths, fitness center and library.

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