Dubuque development offers affordable senior housing, but more still needed

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DUBUQUE, Iowa (KCRG) -- A new development in Dubuque is going to add units to its affordable housing stock for seniors. However, it's only making a small dent in Dubuque's need for affordable housing.

Marquette Hall in Dubuque is the site of Sacred Heart School, which closed in 2004. A developer plans to renovate the building into 28 apartment units. (Allison Wong, KCRG-TV9)

Cohen-Esrey Development Group is almost ready to have people move into Marquette Hall, the former site of Sacred Heart School. The building will have 28 one- and two-bedroom apartments, all but three of which will be affordable housing.

"The bulk of the units are at say 60 percent of the median income to qualify," Cohen-Esrey Development Director Brian Sweeney said. According to the building's website, rents start as low as $415 and go up to $832.

The building is certainly addressing a need. According to the City of Dubuque Housing and Community Development Director Alexis Steger, the city is in need of 700 affordable units for seniors. She says when developments like this happen, it helps seniors and other age groups.

"We definitely have an increasing population of seniors and when the seniors are moving from their homes into these types of places with less lawn care, etc., they're freeing up other affordable housing so it kind of works its way down through the generations," she said.

One Dubuque woman is looking forward to Marquette Hall's opening. Lori Bower is hoping to secure a lower-level unit for herself. She needs something accessible because she has mobility issues.

“I have CRPS," Bowers said. "In the old days it was called reactive sympathetic dystrophy, and I have multiple illnesses beyond that.”

She likes that Marquette Hall has wide hallways and living spaces that make it easy to get around in a wheelchair, as well as the elevator and in-unit washer and dryer.

"It’ll be nice to be able to get in to have an apartment that is affordable for seniors as well as all-inclusive," she said.

Bowers believes Dubuque needs more developments like this. She said, "I feel that it is needed and this is going to be great for a lot of folks.”

Sweeney expects the units to fill quickly. There is an open house on Wednesday, July 17, 5-7 p.m., for people to learn more.