A Sanctuary for Seniors

03.16.16 | by Dabney Dwyer

    I recently visited Cathedral Gardens, a project of Ministry of With the Aging, Inc. (501c.3) operating as a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese. While I have known about Cathedral Gardens for years, I was again amazed when I visited this senior independent living community located adjacent to St. Matthew Cathedral.

    Cathedral Gardens has been a senior housing resource for the diocese and the community for 35 years. The management, staff and Board of Directors are dedicated to providing a safe, supportive community for seniors and those disabled who may be on fixed income and with little family support.

    Ten thousand Americans are turning 65 years old every day, but many in this country are living in poverty. In Dallas County, 18 percent of seniors are living in poverty compared to nine percent for the entire state. In addition, affordable housing is scarce, particularly those living on fixed income. With the process of gentrification in our city, many seniors are being displaced and are unable to find safe, affordable housing.

    Laura Warner Gilmer, Executive Director of Cathedral Gardens explained that HUD provides housing subsidy for 23 of the 107 leasable units. Fewer than 10 units receive some other form of housing assistance. There are at least 90 people (the first 35 of whom are current residents) on the waiting list for subsidy assistance. In fact, some individuals waiting have been referred to supportive housing nonprofits such as Housing Crisis Center to secure temporary housing. Cathedral Gardens maintains an occupancy level of 96 percent, in light of the time and cost needed to rehab vacated units before renting.

    Despite the challenges, Ms. Warner states that she, the staff and board feel blessed to be a part of this ministry… making Cathedral Gardens the best it can be for their residents. Multiple weekly activities are planned including birthday dinners, socials and health and wellbeing classes. Various parishes in the diocese have also contributed time, talent and treasure to benefit the residents. But more help is needed. Please visit the website www.cathedralgardensdallas.org and schedule a tour of the facility. There are multiple ways that individuals and congregations can help.

    Dabney Dwyer

    Missioner for Outreach