Providing Housing for Seniors

Providing Housing for Seniors

Naomi Cole first read about the Laurels of Junaluska in her local newspaper. Built on the hillside of a former family farm, the new apartment complex promised much-needed affordable living for seniors and retired United Methodist clergy in rural western North Carolina.

A long-time resident of the N.C. mountains, Cole had been living in a nearby community. With health issues from childhood polio, she needed a place to live independently that was accessible and secure.

The Laurels of Junaluska opened in Waynesville in November 2007 with 100 apartments. The project’s unique funding included federal and state tax credits, a HUD grant and a grant from The Duke Endowment to the Waynesville District of the Western North Carolina Conference of the United Methodist Church. Crosland, the Charlotte-based firm in charge of design and development, won national recognition for its work.

The complex is an affiliate of Givens Estates, a United Methodist retirement community in Asheville. Targeting the region’s growing senior population, it’s open to men and women who are 55 and older and have limited incomes.

Community officials say the need was great. In a 2000 census, 8.5 percent of N.C. seniors were living under 50 percent of the area median income. In Haywood County, the number reached nearly 21 percent.

Today, Laurels’ residents enjoy the facility’s library and exercise studio. They visit at the stone fireplace that warms the lobby. Outside, they can garden at raised beds.

“We hope they can grow old here, where they can live independently and safely,” says service coordinator Nancy Burleson.

Mark Bailey, director of development at Givens Estates, agrees. “Many feel helpless and alone, which can lead to increased dysfunction and early onset of diseases. Communities like Laurels of Junaluska can easily create an environment where we can extend the hand of Christ to people who are struggling, often through no fault of their own.”

Cole moved to the Laurels two months after it opened. She appreciates the washer and dryer, which are included in every apartment. She likes the community room, where she plays the piano for neighbors. But she especially loves the view from her windows of Lake Junaluska and the Great Smoky Mountains.

“My life has been enriched just knowing I can get up every morning and see this,” she says. “I can’t say enough about my new home.”

Contact Us

Robert R. Webb III
Director of Rural Church
704.927.2251

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Area of Work

  • Congregational outreach

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  • Rural Church

Areas of Work

  • Prevention and early intervention for at-risk children

    To equip children and families with skills to ensure that children reach developmental milestones to lead successful lives.

  • Out-of-home care for youth

    To drive child welfare systems toward greater accountability for child well-being.

  • Quality and safety of health care

    Improving the quality and safety of health care delivery

  • Access to health care

    Improving health by increasing access to comprehensive care

  • Prevention

    Expanding programs to promote health and prevent disease

  • Academic excellence

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  • Educational access and success

    Increasing educational access and supporting a learning environment that promotes achievement

  • Campus and community engagement

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  • Rural church development

    Building the infrastructure and capacity of United Methodist churches to enhance ministry and mission

  • Clergy leadership

    Strengthening United Methodist churches by improving the quality and effectiveness of church leadership

  • Congregational outreach

    Engaging United Methodist congregations in programs that serve their communities

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