Housing Services employees explain their work


SEWELL — On Thursday, May 12, the Diocesan Housing Services Corporation (DHSC) of the Diocese of Camden, with the diocesan offices of Health Services Division and Catholic Charities, held their annual Convocation at Church of the Holy Family here.

Each year, the three offices hold a joint convocation, taking turns on hosting duties. This year, the Diocesan Housing Services Corporation presented “Serving the Mission from Concept To Completion,” showcasing their work to provide affordable housing to seniors and/or families earning very low to moderate incomes.

The convocation gave those gathered “a glimpse of understanding, of what we do,” said Curtis H. Johnson, Jr., executive director of the DHSC.

The day proved that the work takes patience, foresight and painstaking attention to detail. Johnson said of the housing staff, “You see the passion they bring to their jobs everyday.”

Nearly 150 attendees, which included diocesan employees of the three offices, clergy, religious and housing residents, heard from Peter J. O’Connor, president of the board of trustee of the Diocesan Housing Services Corporation.

One of the original attorneys in two landmark Supreme Court cases, commonly referred to as the “Mount Laurel Doctrine,” O’Connor stressed the importance of providing affordable housing opportunities in all communities, and heeding the call as Catholics to serve our neighbors.

DHSC employees spoke about each of their residences, which include current buildings, the Victorian Towers, Cape May; the Village Apartments of Cherry Hill; Davenport Village, Hainesport; Shepherd’s Farm, West Deptford; Stonegate at St. Stephen, Pennsauken; and Haven House at St. John of God, North Cape May.

The Village at St. Peter’s in Pleasantville, and Benedict’s Place in Cherry Hill, are slated to open in the future.

Over the past 38 years, the Diocese of Camden and DHSC has received approximately $67 million in project financing, and constructed 713 units of affordable housing throughout the six counties of the diocese: Salem, Cumberland, Atlantic, Camden, Gloucester and Cape May.

An afternoon presentation, led by Marathon Engineering and Environmental Services, and Haley Donovan Architects, demonstrated how much time and effort goes into developing a housing residence.

Designing the site and getting permits to build can involve such as the regulatory agencies like the Department of Environmental Protection or the Department of Housing and Urban Development, or the local community. Then there is the possibility of environmental problems such as flooding hazards or the impact the residence would have on wildlife. The possible possible issues is long.

The presentation involved a skit, where attendees played the role of such individuals as an engineer, developer, architect, surveyor, property owner, or board member and discussed the housing issues.