BRANDON — It began one morning seven years ago, with an idea over a few cups of coffee.
By next month, Apostles Village will give senior citizens an affordable place to live.
"We're excited," said Apostles Lutheran Pastor C. Handlee Vige. "No, we're ecstatic. It's beautiful."
Vige smiled as he stood looking at the tan and burgundy two-story building at Kingsway Road and E Sadie Street. As sprinklers watered newly planted landscaping, construction crews laid carpet and painted walls inside.
A building dedication planned for Sunday will add one more finishing touch.
With nearly $8 million in federal, state and county grants, the church built much-needed low-income housing for seniors next to its sanctuary. The 43.000-square-foot building features 55 apartments for individuals and couples who qualify.
Residents will have access to a social worker, resident manager and a maintenance worker, in addition to homemaking, respite and transportation services. LifeLink Corp., a nonprofit health and human services organization, will manage the complex.
Although most of the apartments are taken, the church still seeks residents for 15 units. Those chosen to live in the complex have to meet criteria based on income and other requirements. For example, residents cannot have an income that exceeds about $19,800.
"They must be independent," said Ron Beisecker, the church's administrator. "It's not an assisted-living facility."
So far, the church received nearly 200 applications for the 55 apartments, Beisecker said. Filing an application is an extensive process that takes time. The church urges anyone who's interested not to wait.
To make the project happen, Apostles Lutheran joined forces with Lutheran Services Florida to secure grants and the 2 acres next door to the church.
In 2006, the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development approved a $5.5-million grant for the building. Hillsborough County chipped in another $265,000 in the form of a Community Development Block Grant. The State Housing Initiatives Partnership Program provided another $935,000.
Though it took longer than expected, Vige said, the apartments were well worth the wait.
"It's God's call and God's command to have mercy, to have compassion for the less fortunate," he said. "This is a wonderful feeling, and it's a dream coming to fruition."
Chandra Broadwater can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or (813) 661-2454.