In the Shadow of the Steeple
Who is Brother Ronald Giannone, and what drives him to do the things he does?
(page 9 of 10)
The interminable litigation prompted Mayor Williams to withdraw his promise of $375,000. In an email to Delaware Today, he stated: “Two years ago, the City of Wilmington made a commitment to the 25-unit Sacred Heart Village II Supportive Housing project from its Fiscal Year 2011 allocation federal HOME Investment Partnership funds. Use of this federal grant requires the City to commit the funding within two years of receipt and fully expend it within four years.
Due to litigation resulting from community opposition,” Williams added, “the Ministry of Caring’s Sacred Heart Village II project has been delayed. The delay prevented the City from entering into an agreement by the June 2013 HUD mandated deadline. Rather than risk losing the funding, the Williams Administration reprogrammed it to the Wilmington Housing Partnership for several housing rehabilitation projects.” (Two of those projects were located on the East Side and one in Northeast Wilmington.)
“Once all legal matters concerning the development of the Sacred Heart Village II Supportive Housing project have been resolved,” the mayor continued, “it is the intention of the Williams Administration to support the project subject to available funding.”
Williams in a letter told Giannone he could reapply. “But that’s the kiss of death,” says Giannone. “That takes 10 months to a year before you get an answer.”
It does take that long, confirms City Councilwoman Loretta Walsh. “And with construction costs rising all the time, every day that goes by is costing this project more money,” she says. “The disgrace is that there is a whole pool of seniors in that area who desperately need this housing.”
Abbott says his clients are concerned with the area’s lack of on-street parking. But there are more issues at play. Sources interviewed on the condition of anonymity say that some landlords on the East Side don’t want cameras surveying street activity, nor do they want the ministry taking money out of their pockets by housing their renters.
Sources also feel that many properties available to the elderly on the East Side are not comparable to the quality units proposed by the Ministry of Caring.
Giannone would love to be out of business. “My great wish would be that there would be no need for the Ministry of Caring,” he says.
That’s not likely. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 103,427 Delawareans are impoverished. About 10.7 percent of the population in New Castle County lives at the poverty level. The ministry’s work goes on, thanks to the selfless among us.