By Stephanie Warsmith
Beacon Journal staff writer
More than 400 senior citizens were on a recent waiting list for public housing.
An effort is under way to alleviate the wait.
The Akron City Council approved plans last week for a new apartment complex for seniors that will be added to the Edgewood Village development.
The 48-unit, four-story complex will be built at 760 Edgewood Ave. at Vernon Odom Boulevard, across from the relatively new Akron Urban League.
Councilman Bob Otterman, the oldest member of the council who has been in public office for several decades, said he can't recall a new public housing complex for seniors being built in Akron since President Lyndon Johnson was in office.
Officials with the Akron Metropolitan Housing Authority (AMHA) say it hasn't been quite that long the last new complex opened in 1973 when Richard Nixon was president. Officials think the new building will address a niche that is underserved.
''We agree there is a need,'' said Erin Wojno, an AMHA attorney. ''That's why we're pursuing this.''
AMHA hopes to break ground this fall and expects the building to be finished in about a year.
The senior status of the building, though, isn't set in stone.
AMHA has applied to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) for an ''elderly status'' for the complex, which would mean it would be geared toward those 62 or older. If HUD rejects the request, the building instead will be open to people of all ages, Wojno said.
Regardless of the status, the complex like the rest of Edgewood Village will be a combination of public and affordable housing, targeted to those with low to moderate incomes.
The name of the complex isn't yet decided. The building will be constructed where the Marian T. Hall Community Center formerly stood, and council members are urging AMHA to consider adopting this name for the new structure.
''It would be appropriate to name it after Marian Hall, who was an advocate for this community,'' Councilman Mike Williams said.
Wojno said AMHA will consider this suggestion. At the very least, she said, the plaques and memorabilia to honor Hall will be displayed in the first-floor, community portion of the new complex, which will include a meeting space, computer lab, kitchen and offices.
This will be the third phase of the award-winning Edgewood Village, with the first two made up of town homes and single-family units. Wojno said the town homes and units have been occupied quickly after being built.
AMHA hopes to start on the fourth and final phase of the Edgewood Village development next year, which involves tearing down the Raymond, Berry, Mallison Apartments and replacing them with town homes.