Article Published

Article_archdiocese-of-miami-wenski-groves-affordable-permanent-housing-for-working-poor

Feature News | Wednesday, May 08, 2024

Wenski Groves, affordable, permanent housing for working poor

Catholic Charities’ new 30-unit apartment complex, named after Archbishop Wenski for his advocacy for the less fortunate

 

MIAMI | From his nearby office in Miami’s Wynwood district, Philip Sylvester saw the good works that New Life Family Center, an Archdiocese of Miami shelter, did for its residents.

“Day after day, I saw the families living there,” said Sylvester, entrepreneur, developer, and devout Catholic, at a ribbon-cutting ceremony April 26, 2024, for Wenski Groves, a 30-unit apartment complex for the working poor, named in honor of Archbishop Thomas Wenski. “The people living at New Life Center knew that they were more than tenants. They knew that someone cared about them. This was inspirational to me.”

From left: Philip Sylvester, entrepreneur/developer; Archbishop Thomas Wenski; Miami-Dade Mayor Daniela Levine-Cava; and Peter Routsis-Arroyo, CEO of Catholic Charities of Miami, pose by a mural created for Wenski Groves, an affordable housing complex of Catholic Charities, during a blessing and ribbon-cutting ceremony April 26, 2024. The complex includes 30 apartments, 20 efficiencies, and 10 single-bedroom spaces. The mural was created by artist Erni Vales.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

From left: Philip Sylvester, entrepreneur/developer; Archbishop Thomas Wenski; Miami-Dade Mayor Daniela Levine-Cava; and Peter Routsis-Arroyo, CEO of Catholic Charities of Miami, pose by a mural created for Wenski Groves, an affordable housing complex of Catholic Charities, during a blessing and ribbon-cutting ceremony April 26, 2024. The complex includes 30 apartments, 20 efficiencies, and 10 single-bedroom spaces. The mural was created by artist Erni Vales.

Located in a former motel, New Life Center is a 15-unit transitional shelter for those who are homeless. Meals and counseling are provided for six months as residents are given an opportunity to return to self-sufficiency. Sylvester wanted to create a better facility to help those falling through the cracks.

“It came to me to build a new facility for the archdiocese,” he said. “I wanted to help those who help others.”

Sylvester owned vacant land on Northwest 36th Street, about two miles west of New Life Center. He told archdiocesan officials that he was willing to trade that property for the New Life Center property. In addition, Sylvester would pay for the construction of the new facility. He credited his Catholic schooling for his motivation.

“The Jesuits emphasized the importance of thought, reflection and action,” he said.

A look at one of the new apartments at Catholic Charities' Wenski Groves reveals countertops, a stove, a refrigerator, and more in the kitchen space of each unit. The Wenski Groves affordable housing complex was blessed by its namesake, Archbishop Thomas Wenski, April 26, 2024. The complex includes 30 apartments, 20 efficiencies, and 10 single-bedroom spaces.

Photographer: CRISTINA CABRERA JARRO| FC

A look at one of the new apartments at Catholic Charities' Wenski Groves reveals countertops, a stove, a refrigerator, and more in the kitchen space of each unit. The Wenski Groves affordable housing complex was blessed by its namesake, Archbishop Thomas Wenski, April 26, 2024. The complex includes 30 apartments, 20 efficiencies, and 10 single-bedroom spaces.

He quoted St. Francis of Assisi, who said, “that in the end all we have left is what we have given away.”  He recalled a sermon that a priest gave during Mass in his native Chicago.

“Outside the church there are people that are begging, it’s up to you to give them money or food, what you really need to give them as a Christian is respect,” the priest said. “Don’t walk out of this Mass and ignore them. Look them in the eye and smile at them, ask them how they are doing or even hear their story, because they all have one. Let them know someone cares about them, their lives matter and give them dignity because that is what they need most.”

Sylvester worked together with the archdiocese to design, create plans, and pull permits on the $5 million project.

“We designed the units with some character, fresh colors, nature, and art that were intended to let the residents know that they were more than tenants, someone cared about them,” Sylvester said. “This was intended to be an uplifting place. Now, the easy part is over and the hard work of transforming lives begins.”

Archbishop Wenski thanked Sylvester for investing in people.

Catholic Charities helps people do good in life,” he said. “It’s a great honor for me and my father, who was a Polish immigrant.”

The mural for Wenski Groves, created by artist Erni Vales, features words like 'Hope' and 'Joy' to inspire residents of the affordable housing complex run by Catholic Charities. Wenski Groves includes 30 apartments, 20 efficiencies, and 10 single-bedroom spaces, and was blessed April 26, 2024.

Photographer: CRISTINA CABRERA JARRO| FC

The mural for Wenski Groves, created by artist Erni Vales, features words like 'Hope' and 'Joy' to inspire residents of the affordable housing complex run by Catholic Charities. Wenski Groves includes 30 apartments, 20 efficiencies, and 10 single-bedroom spaces, and was blessed April 26, 2024.

Wenski Groves consists of 20 efficiency apartments and 10 one-bedroom apartments located at 2130 NW 37 St. in Miami. Efficiency apartments are 400 square feet; one-bedroom apartments are 525 square feet. Both types of apartments are unfurnished. Each apartment has a new refrigerator and stove. There’s also a coin laundry, as well as offices for wrap-around services, such as job placement and counseling, and a meeting room. Rents range from $900 to $1,500 based on income. Average rent prices in Miami for a one-bedroom apartment range well above the Wenski Groves residences.

Peter Routsis-Arroyo, Catholic Charities Chief Operating Officer, praised Sylvester for making Wenski Groves happen.

“Eight years ago, he came to us with a proposal,” said Routsis-Arroyo. “It was a win-win for both of us. Philip is a man of his word and he followed through with his idea.”

Routsis-Arroyo thanked Archbishop Wenski for advocating for the less fortunate.

“We knew who we wanted to name this facility after,” he said. “The archbishop is truly a voice for those who are on the margins, those who have no voice.”

He also thanked Miami-Dade Mayor Daniella Levine-Cava for advocating for the homeless.

“She cut through the red tape to get this project built,” he said as he introduced her to speak.

Mayor Levine-Cava commended the archbishop’s leadership and said that the facility will be named after someone we admire, Archbishop Wenski, who has worked for the Church in Miami for 43 years.

“People are suffering for lack of basic needs,” she said.  “Housing is a human right. So many people, today, in Miami, lack access to that basic right. Recently, we had opportunities for section eight housing. On the first day of taking applications we had 132,000 applicants. This project is wonderful. Thank you, Catholic Charities.”

FIND OUT MORE

  • Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of Miami, which has a 94-year history of helping those in need, will be taking applications on their website for the residences. Catholic Charities is aiming for the application process to start later this month. Those interested must be employed and should continuously check Catholic Charities website, www.ccadm.org, or send an email to [email protected].
  • Wenski Groves offers permanent housing, although once every year, tenants must recertify and meet the work and income eligibility requirements. There can be up to two children in each one-bedroom apartment, Routsis-Arroyo said.
View of Wenski Groves, an affordable housing complex that includes 30 apartments, 20 efficiencies and 10 one-bedroom units. This new Catholic Charities development was blessed by Archbishop Thomas Wenski during a ceremony on April 26, 2024.

Photographer: MARLENE QUARONI | FC

View of Wenski Groves, an affordable housing complex that includes 30 apartments, 20 efficiencies and 10 one-bedroom units. This new Catholic Charities development was blessed by Archbishop Thomas Wenski during a ceremony on April 26, 2024.


Powered by Parish Mate | E-system

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply