MERCY HOUSING WELCOMES JOPLIN SENIORS BACK HOME
On May 22 of last year, the Residents of Mercy Village in Joplin, Mo., a small town located within the infamous southern plains stretch of the central United States known as “Tornado Alley,” clamored to their senior property’s Community Room to take cover from a catastrophic cyclone that devastated their quiet little town.
“It was awful,” says Bonnie Betz, an octogenarian resident of Mercy Village who, at one point, was lifted off the ground by the storm. She clung to a railing on a collapsing staircase as the vortex threatened to suck her and the building’s roof away with its terrible power.
But this year on February 21, a mere nine months after the twister tore through the building, Mercy Village celebrated the Grand Re-Opening, welcoming home more than 60 low-income seniors who were displaced by the events of that awful spring day.
“Mercy Housing and the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) have worked together for the past eight months to repair Mercy Village,” said Jennifer Erixon, Vice President of Real Estate Development and Asset Management for Mercy Housing. “We’re very proud of the work we’ve been able to do in such a short time.”
The 66-unit affordable housing property is the first HUD assisted multifamily property to reopen its doors and welcome back residents since the Joplin storm.
“The HUD Section 202 program allows seniors to remain in their communities and most importantly, reside independently in their own homes,” said Ben Metcalf, Senior Advisor to the HUD Deputy Assistant Secretary. “With the limited or fixed income that many seniors face, Section 202 housing lessens the burden of the expenses of aging. America’s aging population needs options like these more than ever, which is why HUD is pleased that Mercy Housing’s efficient work has returned this housing resource to the Joplin community.“
For residents like Bonnie Betz, the event will serve as a time of healing as well as a celebration of re-established community.
“I’m thrilled to be moving back to Mercy Village,” said Bonnie about her much-anticipated homecoming. “The hardest part was being away from my friends and neighbors at Mercy Village. It’s good to come home again.”