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Centralia’s Sunset Gardens offers local low-income senior housing opportunity

Posted on Tuesday, July 2, 2024 at 7:14 pm

Sunset Gardens is one of Centralia’s little-known, attractions, except to those who live there and their friends and family.

For those aware of it, such as Tony Sander, it is “a jewel in our community.”

Others would say is home to some of the roots of the community.

Sander was not at the June 20 meeting of the Centralia Kiwanis Club to discuss Sunset Gardens.

He was there to introduce Stan Fadler, the 68-apartment complex’ manager, who was there to tell people  about

Sunset  Gardens. Fadler discussed how the gem of Centralia senior housing complexes was a Centralia idea.

Located on Rollins Street, on the north side of Hwy. 22 behind the Sana Doughnut shop, Sunset Gardens’ red-brick one and two-bedroom apartments occupy both sides of Rollins, both north and south of Wigam St, he said the complex was a Centralia brainchild.

“In the early 70s there were some people  here in Centralia who had the foresight to realize in the future we were going to need some housing for senior citizens. So, they gathered together and formed a corporation.”

That corporation was called the Sunset Gardens corporation, a 501C3 nonprofit.

Stan Fadler, manager of Sunset Gardens.

Those foresighted people were, according to the Sunset Gardens articles of incorporation were: William Bradley, Millard  Johnson,  Frank Wilson, E.F. Bebermeyer, John Chance and Donald Miller.

The original articles were notarized by Janet Roth.

“Their goal was to provide affordable housing for seniors of low income,” Fadler said. “They went to the Department of Agriculture… They got a loan from them at one percent interest for a period of 50 years.”

They built the first part of the complex, 28 apartments, in 1974 on Rollin’s west side. “It had a laundry room and a Rec. room,” he said.

The complex was built in three phases, Fadler said, the first in 1974, the second in 1984 – on the east side of Rollins Street. Phase three was built in 1994.

The majority of the apartments are one-bedroom, Fadler said, four of them are two-bedroom.

The complex is governed by a nine-member board of directors. The board has five members who live in the complex; Evelyn Gallagher, Della Henry, Dana Salmon, Lee Combs and Jo Biggs. The non-resident members are, Tony Sander, Jeanette Johnson, Angelina Wentz and Dick Ward.

Sander is board president, Wentz – vice president and Henry – secretary.

Fadler called Sander the backbone of Sunset Gardens.

“He’s been associated with it for 20 years. He’s served as manager, he does the budget every year, which we have to do for the US Department of Agriculture. He takes care of the financials, which is figuring out how much we spend and where we spend it every year. He’s our computer guru and he’s the person I go to when I don’t know what to do or how to do it… And he received no money for it, he does it all for free.”

Fadler said he was concerned about what to do when  Sander is no longer able to help.

“One of these days we’re going to have to have someone come in and take over for Tony. Not today or tomorrow, but someday.”

If that person is not found, Fadler said a management company would have to be hired to manage the complex.

“When they do that it will increase the rent of our tenants, $30, $40, $50 a month, and they can’t afford that… So, somebody needs to step up.”

There are criteria for living at Sunset Gardens, Fadler said:

*at least 62 years old, or on disability

•After application and time on the waiting list, when an apartment is free, which happens not very often, every six months or so, he said, the applicant undergoes a credit and background check.

•A felony conviction is a disqualifier, he said.

•Rent is based on adjusted income. “We take their income, usually social security or disability, some have pensions, most don’t. Then we calculate their assets, CDs, trusts, things like that. We look at their expenses, medical issues prescriptions, Medicare, co-pay for doctor visits… We put it all in the computer and it tells us what their rent will be.

He said tenants do not pay more than  30 percent of their adjusted gross income.”

If the rent comes out to be more, there are governmental rental assistance programs.

Fadler estimated 20 of the tenants utilized such  programs.