Dubuque considers financially aiding church redevelopment

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (AP) — Members of the Dubuque City Council will consider supporting an effort to turn a former Catholic church campus into apartments for formerly homeless women.

The Telegraph Herald (http://bit.ly/1VE5hfg ) reports that council members will hold a public hearing next Monday to consider a development agreement with Friends of St. Mary's. It would give more than $150,000 in financial incentives to help the group redevelop St. Mary's Catholic Church's school building into 12 transitional housing apartments.

Construction is slated to begin at the end of May and is expected to take one year to complete, said project developer John Gronen, owner of Gronen Restoration and a member of the Steeple Square board.

The project is the first in a $15 million, multi-year effort to redevelop the campus into apartments and a community center offering child care and programming for homeless women who graduate from Opening Doors' transitional housing program.

"We are seeing women successfully complete our programs and obtain an apartment at market rate on an $8- or $9-an-hour salary, and it sets them up for failure," said Michelle Brown, executive director of Opening Doors. "They're excited to have their own place, but a lot are paying 50 to 70 percent of their income on housing."

The parish was consolidated by the Archdiocese of Dubuque in 2010, ending 150 years of worship at the church. The campus remained dormant until the coalition of business and community leaders announced its plans in 2014.


Information from: Telegraph Herald, http://www.thonline.com

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