Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted blessed the 36-unit Verde Villas near St. Theresa Parish in central Phoenix March 25. The affordable housing community will serve low-income families and veterans and includes a community center. (Joyce Coronel/CATHOLIC SUN)
Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted blessed the 36-unit Verde Villas near St. Theresa Parish in central Phoenix March 25. The affordable housing community will serve low-income families and veterans and includes a community center. (Joyce Coronel/CATHOLIC SUN)

One hundred feet from the traffic-congested lanes of Thomas Road is a newfound oasis for low-income families and veterans in the Valley of the Sun.

Verde Villas On Thomas is a collaboration of Catholic Charities, Maricopa County, Foundation for Senior Living and the City of Phoenix to provide a permanent supportive housing community to needy families and individuals.

Bishop Thomas J. Olmsted of the Diocese of Phoenix blessed the 36-unit complex March 25.

The bishop said it was fitting the day fell on the Solemnity of the Annunciation when “God became one with a human family.”

Referencing the love of neighbor and the value and dignity of every human being, Bishop Olmsted called the complex a “place of many houses,” and blessed it saying, “May this always be a place of love, diffusing always the love of Christ.”

Arizona’s state tree, a Palo Verde, was planted in recognition of the grand opening.

“It symbolizes the ultimate, a family becoming strong and vibrant with good roots in the community,” said Steve Capobres, Catholic Charities vice president of business development. “We are trying to help people stabilize. Our goal is to keep them here. This isn’t transitional — this is permanent.”

This is the first of its kind for Catholic Charities, which received a $900,000 grant from the City of Phoenix and funding from Maricopa County Human Services totaling more than $4.1 million to renovate the Villas.

Housing for Hope, an affiliate of Catholic Charities, was created to further the goal of providing safe, decent affordable communities across Central and Northern Arizona.

Verde Villas represent Housing for Hope’s first project.

“There are so many people who are in need, who need a roof over their head, food in their stomach and something to restore them to feel safe and loved,” said Andy Hardin, board member of both Catholic Charities Community Services and Foundation for Senior Living. “This represents a new beginning for people who truly need it, because we’re all God’s people.”

The newly remodeled Villas have 17 two-bedroom units, eight three-bedroom units, seven one-bedroom units and four studio units. Three units are handicapped accessible.

Rent varies from $450 for a studio to $700 for a three-bedroom unit, utilities included.

Residents of the complex are required to meet income limits at or below 50 percent of the area median income, as determined by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Capobres said.

They are expected to take occupancy within the next two months.

The property features outdoor community spaces, a new playground, a community center with full kitchen, offices, two laundry facilities, a library and computer lab.

There is on-site property management and a fulltime resident services coordinator to assist residents with supportive services and community resources.

Across the street from the Villas is St. Theresa Parish, which has already extended a welcome.

“This is a really unique opportunity,” said Cheryl Lienau, director of administration at the church. “We are excited to get to know the people we serve as our neighbor.”

Gina Keating has been a freelance writer for The Catholic Sun since 1995. A convert to the faith, she began her journey while attending the University of Arizona. She works in children’s ministry/sacramental preparation at St. Theresa Parish, where she is also a member of Boy Scout Troop 147. She and her husband, Thomas, have four children and a granddaughter.

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