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Wednesday July 6th

Affordable housing project for senior citizens coming to Hillsborough

Habitat for Humanity of Orange County just finished building the first of a 24-unit apartment complex for seniors. Photo courtesy Kaitlyn Kopala.
Buy Photos Habitat for Humanity of Orange County just finished building the first of a 24-unit apartment complex for seniors. Photo courtesy Kaitlyn Kopala.

Habitat for Humanity of Orange County officially finished the first of 24 buildings located in a new affordable housing community in Hillsborough.

The community, named Crescent Magnolia, is for residents who are 55 and older. It's the first community in the United States built by Habitat for Humanity to improve affordable housing exclusively for seniors, said Jennifer Player, president and CEO of Habitat for Humanity of Orange County.

Kaitlyn Kopala, communications and events coordinator for Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, said this project has been in the works for several years.

She said the former executive director of Habitat for Humanity of Orange County, Susan Levy, realized as her parents were getting older, there weren’t many housing options for seniors. 

“While affordable housing is a problem for a lot of people in the county, seniors are actually the most cost burden in Orange County,” Kopala said. 

Habitat for Humanity dedicated the land for Crescent Magnolia in September 2018, and the project has been growing steadily since then, she said.

Crescent Magnolia is close to UNC Hospitals Hillsborough Campus, the Little School of Hillsborough and a neighborhood of young families. Because of this, Kopala said the new housing community is weaving all age groups into the area. 

“This new community is bringing a lot of diversity to this little pocket of Hillsborough,” Kopala said. “It’s really a unique opportunity to be able to do this since we are a smaller area compared to Raleigh or another big city.”

The housing units are equipped for any medical issues that may arise for residents and are ADA compliant, Kopala said. The units are built to help seniors live independently or to adapt to on-site caregivers that seniors may need.

Player said 43 percent of seniors in Orange County live alone. There will be 24 townhomes in the neighborhood, creating a close-knit community among the residents, she said.

“We have intentionally designed Crescent Magnolia to encourage relationships amongst the homeowners and a true sense of community where they can support and rely on each other,” Player said.

Crescent Magnolia homeowner, and now a member of Habitat’s advocacy committee, John Lyon said he and his wife will have a better quality of life in the community. 

Lyon said his wife, Marion, has dementia, and they will be able to have a support group of similar-aged people, allowing them to age in place. 

“We just feel so blessed,” he said. “We’re still pinching ourselves and can’t wait to move in.”

Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina donated to Habitat for Humanity’s project because it closely aligns with their ongoing commitment to improve health and living conditions for all North Carolinians, said Reagan Greene Pruitt, vice president of marketing and community engagement for Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina.

“The Habitat for Humanity Crescent Magnolia community combats loneliness and isolation by encouraging interaction with other residents through green spaces, a shared pavilion and volunteer opportunities,” Pruitt said. 

Pruitt said Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina hopes its support of this community will encourage other places around the country to emulate what the Habitat for Humanity of Orange County is doing with the elderly community in Hillsborough.

Construction for Crescent Magnolia will continue through 2020, but Lyon and other residents will be able to move in mid-November, Lyon estimated. 

“There’s a lot of exciting things coming up with this community,” Lyon said. “I am just so grateful for what this organization has done for our family.”


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