July 12, 2005 – Lutheran Social Services has been helping disadvantaged people in the Virgin Islands since 1904, when Crown Princess Louise of Denmark founded the West Indian Committee for Child Care and sent two deaconesses to St. Croix to help combat the high infant mortality rate on the island.
The new project of LSS is a 14-apartment complex for adults with disabilities. The complex at the corner of King and Customs House streets in Frederiksted, which has 12 one-bedroom and 2 two-bedroom apartments, is presently under renovation. The complex also will have a community center and laundry service.
The complex is for adults with disabilities who can live independently, said Masserae Webster, LSS housing manager. "We will provide the residents with support services," Webster said. "Each resident will be provided with a case manager, and there will be a well-health clinic in the building.
"The mission of Lutheran Social Services is to provide service to those who most need it," Webster said. The housing is funded by a $1,521,700 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide housing for adults with disabilities.
Webster said the apartments would provide a stable living situation for people who may be blind, deaf or have some degree of mental illness. "We have a checklist and guidelines to determine if a prospective resident can live independently," Webster said. "We also rely on a doctor's recommendation."
Webster said some business people in Frederiksted had some concerns about the project. "The misconception was the project was going to be a homeless shelter; we don't provide shelter for the homeless," Webster said.
Primco, a local contractor, is presently demolishing the interior of the building, which has been unoccupied for several years. The last occupant of the privately owned building was a government agency. The building is scheduled to be ready for occupancy in September 2006.
LSS manages four other housing complexes, three on St. Croix and one on St. Thomas, which meet the housing needs of senior citizens and adults with disabilities. On St. Croix, the agency manages the Danish Gardens, seven federally subsidized apartments for physically or mentally disabled adults capable of independent living; Flamboyant Gardens, 56 subsidized units for adults over the age of 62 or with disabilities; and Genip Gardens, with 20 units for low-income senior citizens and adults with disabilities. All of the complexes are in Frederiksted with the exception of Flamboyant Gardens, located in Estate Strawberry. Webster said the agency has tried to create housing opportunities in Christiansted but has not been successful.
On St. Thomas, the agency manages Ebenezer Gardens, with 42 units of federally subsidized housing for senior citizens capable of independent living.
LSS also manages the Queen Louise Home for Children, which celebrated its 100th anniversary in 2004.
Webster said the population LSS serves has a great need for housing because the turnover rates for the apartments are low. "This is not a transient population. Residents generally stay until they pass away or maybe their family moves them off island. We have a long waiting list."
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