Officials cutting the ribbon Sept. 26 for Victory Housing's new Cheval Court in Forestville included,  from left, Donn Weinberg of The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, James A. Brown Jr. of Victory Housing, Yvette Jackson of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl, and Tommie Thompson, of the Prince George's County Department of Housing and Community Development. (CS photo by Michael Hoyt)
Officials cutting the ribbon Sept. 26 for Victory Housing's new Cheval Court in Forestville included, from left, Donn Weinberg of The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, James A. Brown Jr. of Victory Housing, Yvette Jackson of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl, and Tommie Thompson, of the Prince George's County Department of Housing and Community Development. (CS photo by Michael Hoyt)
Victory Housing, the housing development arm of the Archdiocese of Washington, opened a new $4.5 million community for low-income senior citizens Sept. 26 in Forestville, next to Mount Calvary Church and School and Bishop McNamara High School.

The new facility, Cheval Court, is a 26-unit apartment building with community spaces that have a fireplace, dining room, activity room, library and outdoor terrace.

Multiple agencies, including the government, the archdiocese and the private sector collaborated to make the community possible, noted Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl, who joined other community leaders in cutting the ribbon for the new facility.

"All of us are focused on the senior citizens who live here, and it speaks of what can be accomplished when everyone works together," Archbishop Wuerl said.

While the archdiocese provided the land for the project, a Housing and Urban Development capital grant of $2.75 million and a $1 million grant from an anonymous private donor provided the largest financial support for the new community. Other grants came from Prince George's County, The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation, the Maryland Affordable Housing Trust and the Clark Charitable Foundation.

The ceremony began with a performance by the Mount Calvary School Choir and ended with the ribbon cutting ceremony to mark the official dedication of Cheval Court.

Speakers at the dedication ceremony included James A. Brown Jr., the president of Victory Housing; Yvette Jackson, supervisory project manager for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development; Tommie Thompson, director of Prince George's County Department of Housing and Community Development; and Donn Weinberg, vice president and trustee of The Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

John D. Spencer, vice president and the chief operating officer of Victory Housing, said the event was a culmination of a lot of hard work.

"Victory Housing is pleased to provide this much needed affordable housing resource to residents of the inner-beltway Prince George's County," Spencer said.

According to Arlita Matthews, project manager for Victory Housing, they had more than 200 applicants for the 26 apartments.

Jackson said HUD has a "long standing relationship with Victory Housing."

"The true value of a property is not measured by the land, the building value or the amenities but a sense of community of the people who reside there. I hope the future residents can make this a place to call home," she said.

Doris Clark, a 65-year old resident of Cheval Court, is doing just that.

"(Cheval Court) is beyond nice, the sky is the limit. I have a beautiful kitchen, self cleaning stove, refrigerator, a bedroom and a living room that is a nice size. They didn't limit on the furniture either," she said. "It is just so elegant looking, and I want to thank each and every one who had a part in making this happen. I am proud to live here."

Cheval Court is an independent living facility for seniors.

Residents must meet a minimum age requirement of 62 years old and have a maximum income level of $33,100 in order to be eligible for residency at Cheval Court.

Once these requirements are met, residents pay 30 percent of their income for rent with the help of government subsidies.

Thompson said they are raising the standard of living for seniors.

"The hallmark of Victory Housing is quality," he said.

Victory Housing operates 21 affordable communities with 1,200 rental units for seniors and families in Washington, D.C., and in suburban Maryland. The agency offers seven assisted living facilities, with several adjacent to local parishes, including Mary's House at St. Mary's in Rockville, Raphael House at St. Raphael's in Rockville, Byron House at Our Lady of Mercy in Potomac, and Bartholomew House at St. Bartholomew's in Bethesda.

Caring for elders is a concept that has roots in the Bible, said Archbishop Wuerl.

"When Jesus was on the cross, His last articulated concern was for His mother. What will happen to My mother? Where will she go? He looked to John and said take care of My mother," the archbishop said.

Cheval Court planners hope that the residents there, in addition to building friendships with each other, will enjoy a neighborly relationship with Mount Calvary Parish and School and Bishop McNamara High School.