Ministry of Caring breaks ground on Wilmington housing project [video]

 (Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

(Mark Eichmann/WHYY)

Sacred Heart Village II will provide affordable homes to 26 of Wilmington’s older residents.

State leaders dug the first ceremonial shovelfuls of dirt to celebrate the start of work on the 26-unit building on Wilmington’s East Side. Situated at the corner of 10th and N. Spruce Streets, the new $7 million building will be completed in a little over a year. 

But for Brother Ronald Giannone, founder and executive director of the Ministry of Caring, it’s been a long fight to get to this point. “Four years we struggled over a lawsuit that was not supported by the community, but was only supported by two neighbors,” Giannone said.

That lawsuit claimed the housing facility wasn’t in line with the neighborhood’s zoning for single-family homes. That was eventually defeated and that ruling was upheld by the Delaware Supreme Court earlier this year. “I’m happy today after four years of struggling knowing that next year, God-willing, people will be moving in.”

The new housing facility will charge residents just 30 percent of their gross income for the one bedroom units that would normally cost more than $1000 per month at fair market value. Giannone says the building is really an anti-poverty initiative. “Once the poor live in this house, they can live [here] for the rest of their life,” he said. “They don’t have to worry.”

Now that work is about to start on Sacred Heart Village II, Giannone is already looking forward to the next project. “I think we need to build more. Sacred Heart Village III, and IV and V and VI.”

There is currently a waiting list on Sacred Heart Village I that is more than 100 people long, and the list for the new facility will probably be similar. Giannone said it’s evidence of the “desperate” need for affordable housing in Wilmington.

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