For Shirley Crowder, Weinberg Place is more than just an apartment building. It’s her home.
“I was very sick when I moved in here a little over six years ago and I have progressively gotten better,” said Crowder, 68. “My neighbors check on me and call me to make sure I’m OK. I feel as a community, this place is great and the people here look out for one another.”
On Sept. 15, Crowder joined approximately 150 Weinberg Place residents, staff members, community members and dignitaries to celebrate the building’s 50th anniversary. (Located at 2500 Belvedere Ave., Weinberg Place was previously known as the Concord House.)
“This is our golden jubilee and the theme is ‘A Continuing Journey of Learning, Growing and Living,’” said Carolyn Peoples, service coordinator at Weinberg Place. “People come here from all walks of life who have adjusted through world wars, children, grandchildren, moves and income decreases. It’s a journey of living and growing because here we challenge them and open up avenues to learn new things.”
The milestone celebration lasted a little over an hour and featured a video about the history of Weinberg Place and its residents, remarks by community leaders, and award presentations to longtime Weinberg Place residents and employees. Following the ceremony, there was a catered lunch.
“We have over 230 residents living here and have touched the lives of thousands of residents and their families,” said Peoples. “Additionally, we have a staff that is really focused on the people who live here, which to me that is the key to our success.”
Among the political and communal leaders in attendance were Sen. Nathaniel Oaks (D-41st), Del. Samuel I. “Sandy” Rosenberg (D-41st), Del. Angela C. Gibson (D-41st), Del. Bilal Ali (D-41st, and City Councilwoman Sharon Green Middleton (D-6th). Additionally, representatives from the offices of Sen. Ben Cardin (D-Md.) and Sen. Chris Van Hollen (D-Md.), as well as a representative of City Councilman Isaac “Yitzy” Schleifer (D-5th), were on hand.
Also, former City Councilwoman Rochelle D. “Rikki” Spector took part in the ceremony. Her late husband, Allen B. Spector, was a member of the House of Delegates when Weinberg Place was built.
“The Associated [Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore] realized back then that the senior and handicapped population was the growing population, and that housing and socialization was something that was so important,” said Spector. “They put their arms around it and made it happen. I’m so happy when I see seniors and disabled people with happy faces because they are happy where they are. I think it’s ‘the 11th Commandment’ — try to improve the quality of life for the people who need the assistance and the care.”
The Concord House opened in 1967 and was created with the support of The Associated and the nearby Levindale Hebrew Geriatric Center and Hospital. The building was constructed with assistance from the U.S. Housing and Urban Development’s Section 202, a federal program that provides funding to build affordable housing for older adults. It was the first Section 202 building in Baltimore and the ninth in the nation.
“Over the last 50 years, thousands of seniors have had a great, affordable place to live, thanks to this building,” said Mitchell Posner, chief executive officer of Comprehensive Housing Assistance Inc. (CHAI), an agency of the Associated. “Helping older adults is integral to any faith, but in Judaism we have a tremendous respect for our elders. I’m extremely proud of the impact we have on the lives of so many older adults.”
Weinberg Place was first managed by Levindale and is now owned by CHAI and managed in partnership with the Edgewood Management Co. Its name changed from Concord House to Weinberg Place in the early 2000s in honor of a generous donation by the Baltimore-based Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.
“The mission to supply affordable housing is a core Jewish principle, and we are proud to continue to own and operate this building to the highest possible standards,” said Posner. “It’s really a beautiful place.”
While the anniversary was focused on Weinberg Place and its residents, the milestone has an even bigger meaning, said Posner.
“We are really celebrating affordable housing,” he said. “While the operating subsidy funding for the current Section 202 buildings is secure, we can’t build any new ones because there are no more capital dollars in the federal budget. This is a city, regional, state and national issue, and I am very proud of CHAI’s role in bringing awareness to the challenge this creates. There are thousands of people whose lives are positively impacted by having a safe, affordable roof over their heads, and we have to figure out how to make sure we can maintain and expand the inventory.”
Marcye Dansky is one of those residents whose lives have been transformed because of Weinberg Place. “I really like living here,” she said. “And if I didn’t live here, I don’t know where else I would live.”
Dansky, 68, grew up in Baltimore and graduated from Northwestern High School in 1968, the school’s first graduating class. She moved to Weinberg Place 14 years ago because of a disability and ended up having both of her hips replaced. Since living at Weinberg Place, she has graduated from college with a degree in health sciences. Later this month, she will start a master’s degree program in health care administration and management at University of Maryland University College.
Dansky has served as secretary of the building’s tenant association and volunteers at its Eating Together program, which is the largest Eating Together site in the city, serving 294 meals a week.
“Weinberg Place has really improved my life,” said Dansky. “I think the volunteer work has been great and I really enjoy going downstairs for dinner. I socialize with people, talk to those around me and just try to be a really good person.”
A native of The Bronx, N.Y., Shirley Crowder moved to Baltimore in 1985 and has a son who also lives at Weinberg Place. She echoes Dansky’s sentiments on living in the building.
“There are so many things that go on in this building, including movies, card games, chess and Bingo,” Crowder said. “I left a nursing home to come here, and I’m not going back to a nursing home. I’m at Weinberg Place to stay.”
Aliza Friedlander is a Baltimore-based freelance writer.
Photo: At the Weinberg Place celebration are (left to right) Carolyn Peoples, service coordinator; Darcell Gholson, community manager; resident Shirley Crowder; Linda A. Hurwitz, chair of the board of The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore; and Mitchell Posner, chief executive officer of CHAI. (Photo provided by The Associated: Jewish Community Federation of Baltimore)
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