Life just got a little bit easier for 11 Juneau renters.
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Seven affordable apartments at the St. Vincent de Paul Society center behind the Nugget Mall were dedicated, blessed and toasted Monday afternoon by community members.
The St. Vincent de Paul project was welcome in a town where affordable housing is hard to come by. The average monthly rent in Juneau is $1,100, but the society's tenants will pay just one-third of their income for the new apartments.
"(Today's weather) is about as nasty as you could get out there," said Tom Slagle, the society's president. "This housing has provided a warm place for 11 people."
Two of those people are Marleni Mojica and her 5-year-old son, Luigi, who are renting a two-bedroom apartment at St. Vincent de Paul. Mojica, an assistant teacher from the Dominican Republic, said her son was waiting all day Monday to show off their new place to visitors.
Mojica pays a little less than $600 for her apartment.
"It is a very good location," she said. Mojica moved to Juneau two years ago to be nearer her family.
She later became teary-eyed when visited by Bishop Michael Warfel of the Catholic Church of Southeast Alaska, who blessed each room in the apartment following the formal dedication ceremony.
While the apartments were under construction, the society's thrift store was relocated within the building. The organization now hopes to build a new thrift shop in the area. The store helps raise a large portion of the funds used for the society's capital projects, such as the new affordable units.
The apartments were funded with a $500,000 grant from the city of Juneau and $190,000 from St. Vincent de Paul. There are five one-bedroom and two two-bedroom apartments.
The St. Vincent de Paul project started before the community launched a major effort last fall to provide affordable homes for middle- and low-income families. A government-private sector partnership is exploring ways to increase housing opportunities for hundreds of people. The dedication Monday was independent of that effort.
The Juneau branch of the society was founded in 1985 by Paul Paradis, who was present at the dedication and for whom the new units are named. Its mission is to alleviate homeless problems in Juneau by providing monetary assistance, clothing, shelter and affordable housing.
Brittany Retherford can be reached at email@example.com.