Cardinal Donald Wuerl greets one of the new residents of Victory Crossing after the building's May 8 dedication ceremony. (CS photos by Jaclyn Lippelmann)
Cardinal Donald Wuerl greets one of the new residents of Victory Crossing after the building's May 8 dedication ceremony. (CS photos by Jaclyn Lippelmann)
The day after the first residents of the Victory Crossing community in Silver Spring moved into their new home, Cardinal Donald Wuerl dedicated the building on May 8, marking the completion of Victory Housing’s most recent project.

Victory Housing, the nonprofit affordable housing development arm of the Archdiocese of Washington, developed the new 105-unit mixed-income community along with several private and public partners including the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development, Montgomery County Department of Housing and Community Affairs, Freddie Mac, Capital One, N.A., Hudson Housing Capital, and the Housing Opportunities Commission of Montgomery County.

The building includes 80 one-bedroom and 25 two-bedroom apartments. Ninety-five of these units are available to households at or below 40 percent, 50 percent, and 60 percent of area median income, and the remaining 10 units are market-rate.

This project is particularly exciting for Leila Finucane, the president of Victory Housing, because it is the first one that has been completed under her watch. Finucane assumed her role as president in February 2017, succeeding James A. Brown, Jr.

Aside from that, Finucane told the Catholic Standard she was excited about this project because of how many people expressed interest in it while it was being built, and it is meaningful “to know it is meeting a need and demand.”

Montgomery County has the highest median housing costs in Maryland, which makes it difficult for many seniors on fixed incomes to find affordable housing options in the area.

Finucane’s favorite feature of the building is the game room, which includes a billiards table and a chess table, because for the people who live there, “I want it to be a place where they enjoy themselves,” Finucane said.

The community already has a wait list, as they have received more applications than units available. The first residents, who moved into the building just a day before the dedication ceremony, were already enjoying living there.

“It is the most beautiful senior housing building I’ve ever seen,” said resident Brenda Carr. “There is so much to do here, I am just going to love it.”

The building is down the street from a library and a recreation facility, and is directly next door to a police station.

“I’ve never felt safe living in a home the first night,” said Carr, but her first night at Victory Crossing she said she didn’t hesitate to turn off the lights and go to sleep, because “I just felt so safe and secure.”

Residents can enjoy a fitness room, a community room with attached theatre space, a computer room, an arts and crafts room, and a wellness room. It is a LEED Silver building, including LED lighting, Energy Star appliances, high efficiency heating and cooling, and energy efficient windows.

But on top of all of the amenities, resident Johnnie Thomas noted how concerned the staff is about the people who live there.

“You couldn’t ask for a better staff,” said Thomas. “I’ve been to a lot of places, but this tops it.”

During the dedication ceremony, David Leopold, Freddie Mac Multifamily’s vice president of affordable housing production, called Victory Housing “a gem that builds gems.”

Freddie Mac helped finance the project by providing a tax-exempt loan. This is the first time this tool has been used in the state of Maryland, and Victory Housing received a Commitment to Excellence Award from the Maryland Department of Housing and Community Development for financing the community this way.

Capital One senior vice president Edmund Delany said this project had a strong personal tie for him, because he grew up just down the road from where it was being built. Delany attended St. John the Baptist School in Silver Spring and Our Lady of Good Counsel High School, which was previously located in Wheaton.

Delany said his mom has lived her whole life in this area, and now lives at a senior living facility nearby. While this is possible for her, Delany said he also recognizes that many seniors in Montgomery County can no longer afford to live in the area where they raised their family.

“I get to appreciate how truly blessed she is,” he said.

But upon seeing the completed Victory Crossing community, Delany said it passed the “Mom test,” meaning that he would be happy to have his mother live there.

With the addition of Victory Crossing, Victory Housing now owns 31 communities comprising 2,280 apartments for seniors and families in Maryland and the District of Columbia.

“We want all of our buildings to pass the ‘Mom test,’” said Finucane.

Cardinal Donald Wuerl noted that the work of Victory Housing and its partners is a Corporal Work of Mercy, because they are playing a part in “providing housing for people who look for some help in finding affordable housing.”

As he said the blessing for the new community, Cardinal Wuerl invited everyone to say “Amen” together as an expression of gratitude for all those who made the community possible.

“It is truly a beautiful, beautiful act of love that we are recognizing today,” he said.