West Ward church will get new life as 4 affordable homes in Easton
When you’re trying to find a place for affordable housing in Easton, you need to get creative.
High-end homes are in demand. Homes of any kind don’t stay on the market for long before they’re scooped up.
So the Easton Redevelopment Authority saw a rare opportunity when a vacant church was up for sale.
Now the church is gutted and bids are due this week for contractors to convert it into four affordable homes.
“We’re really excited about it,” said Michael Brett, the deputy director of the Easton Redevelopment Authority.
The building at 824-32 Ferry St. was once a Presbyterian church for the Italian community. It was the Holy Temple of Easton when COVID-19 hampered the congregation and led to its shutdown, Brett said.
A developer scooped it up before the Easton Redevelopment Authority could make an offer on it, Brett said. It’s unclear why plans to convert it into high-end housing fell through, but the housing authority got a second chance at the property and bought it in 2022.
The developer had gutted it, which saved the Easton Redevelopment Authority the trouble of that demolition work, Brett said.
The redevelopment authority has planning and zoning approvals in hand. Bids went out for contractors early last month. They’re due the week of Sunday, Nov. 19, Brett said.
The homes will be targeted toward people who complete programs at local institutions such as the Safe Harbor shelter or the Third Street Alliance. With new life skills in hand, these families will be able to start independent lives in the rental units.
Each home will have one bedroom and a “flex space” loft that might serve as a child’s bedroom or maybe an office, Brett said. A ramp leads to the first home, making that home handicapped accessible, Brett said.
Construction will cost close to $900,000, Brett said. A $400,000 grant will be supplemented by American Rescue Plan Act funds, Brett said.
The church conversion is a creative way to help four families get a fresh start, Brett said.
“State and federal agencies are really trying to encourage housing providers to look at adaptive reuse,” Brett said. “We have a hard time competing with private industry when a house comes up for sale. It’s gone in a matter of hours.”
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Rudy Miller may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.