The 43-unit Seton Village in the rural community of Emmitsburg, Md., is not just providing affordable housing for seniors; it’s also helping preserve and reuse a property of the Daughters of Charity on a historic site.

The development has been constructed in one of the seven wings that make up the 400,000-square-foot St. Joseph’s Provincial House, which was originally used as a convent for 1,200 Catholic sisters. The other wings include a convent for 100 sisters, a 99-bed skilled nursing facility, and a 50-bed private retirement center for the sisters.

The campus also includes a basilica, a visitor center, and a memorial to Elizabeth Ann Seton, the first American canonized as a saint. Approximately 45,000 tourists make a pilgrimage each year to the shrine of St. Elizabeth, who formed the religious community in 1809 and is buried on the site.

“It provided real quality housing in an area where there was little quality affordable housing,” says Nancy Rase, president and CEO of the project's nonprofit developer, Homes for America. “It also helped the sisters deal with a declining population and an underutilized property.”

Homes for America acquired the wing through a condominium arrangement and then did a gut rehab to create the 31 one-bedroom and 12 two-bedroom units. Thirty-one of the households are very low income and receive project rental assistance contract subsidies. The remaining units are set aside for those earning between 30% and 60% of the area median income. Residents also can take advantage of the services already being provided by the Daughters of Charity as well as nearby off-site programs.

The $11.1 million Seton Village, which was completed in November, was financed with 11 permanent funding sources, including Department of Housing and Urban Development Sec. 202 funds and 4% low-income housing tax credits. The nonprofit also used $5.4 million in short-term tax-exempt bonds that were issued during construction and paid back with Sec. 202 funds and tax credit equity. In addition, a state energy loan was provided as collateral for the bonds and was repaid at closing.

Project Details

Developer: Homes for America
Architect: Cho Benn Holback + Associates
Major Funders: Department of Housing and Urban Development; Enterprise Community Investment; Maryland Department of Housing & Community Development; town of Emmitsburg; Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta; Capital One; The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation; Daughters of Charity Ministries