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A (new) vision leads to dwelling place for low-income senior citizens

Posted by [email protected] on October 17, 2013 at 3:30 PM Comments comments (0)

               Wrtten by Erin Dunigan, Presbyterian News Service Wednesday, 08 May 2013

          

HORMIGUERAS, PUERTO RICO - Nestled within the community of Hormigueros (literally, “ant hill”;), the Estancias Presbiterianas del Angel retirement home—once nothing more than the vision of one Presbyterian congregation—is today the dwelling place for 112 low-income senior citizens.

 

The Iglesia Presbiteriana Central de Mayagüez had long owned a five-acre parcel of land but didn’t have a vision for how to use it. When Eduardo Miranda became pastor of the congregation, ripe with vision for how it might reach beyond church walls to the wider community, the seeds of this innovative new church-government partnership were planted.

Members of a delegation from the Presbyterian Mission Agency, with Pastor Eduardo Miranda (third from left) and some of the residents of the Estancias Presbiterianas del Angel —photo by Erin Dunigan

Estancias Presbiterianas is a 108-room facility. Begun in 2003 with a proposal to the federal housing program under section 202, the church received an $11.3 million grant that funded the construction of the housing facility.

Recently a delegation from the Presbyterian Mission Agency, in Puerto Rico for a 1001 New Worshiping Communities gathering, was able to meet with Miranda and take a tour of the facility to see firsthand what Iglesia Presbiteriana Central de Mayagüez had done by combining its resources and its vision to reach out to a community in need.

“Estancias Presbiterianas del Angel, birthed from the vision of Pastor Miranda, is a wonderful example of what the church can do if it is willing to think creatively and take risks, understands the real needs and opportunities in its local context, and continues to focus on its mission to serve Christ in the world,” said Deputy Executive Director for Mission Roger Dermody.

It’s just such creative thinking that the 1001 movement hopes to ignite within the presbyteries, synods, congregations, and seminaries of the Presbyterian Church (U.S.A.). The Synod of Boriquen (Puerto Rico), its three presbyteries, more than 75 congregations, and the Seminario Evangelico de Puerto Rico —a covenant partner—are part of the PC(USA).

“This has been a model project for providing housing to low-income seniors,” explained Miranda. The monthly rent is $424 for those who can afford it. For those who cannot, subsidy vouchers are available from the government.

Residents who cannot afford the $424 monthly rent are able to apply for housing vouchers to cover the difference in cost —photo by Erin Dunigan

There are three requirements for those who wish to apply for housing at Estancias Presbiterianas: financial need, age (62 or older), and the ability to live unassisted. “There are no religious requirements to be a part of this project,” explained Miranda, emphasizing that all are welcome regardless of denominational affiliation.