Covenant raises cash for revamp


The Covenant House and CHAI Apartments, the St. Louis Jewish community’s senior housing in Creve Coeur, are more than a third of the way to raising $4.5 million for renovations, due in a large part to the contribution of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation.

At least $1.7 million in grants, gifts and pledges have been promised for extensive renovations to Covenant House I and II and the CHAI apartments.

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Of that amount, the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Foundation contributed the largest amount to date, $580,000. The Jewish Federation of St. Louis helped secure the grant, and because of the foundation’s large donation, Covenant House I will be renamed B’nai B’rith Covenant House, Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Building.

Janet Weinberg, executive director of Covenant/CHAI, said the Weinberg Foundation’s contribution was an ideal match between the foundation’s concerns and the efforts of the Covenant House.

Amy Gross, program director for the Weinberg Foundation, said the foundation decided to contribute to the Covenant House project to provide safety and comfort to the senior community, which is part of its commitment to the older adult population throughout the United States.

“The Weinberg Foundation helps funds projects in securing existing housing for low-income seniors, especially in the Jewish community,” Gross said.

Lee Bohm, chair of the Covenant/CHAI Development Committee, and RoyalBanks of Missouri also each contributed $350,000.

A total of $4.5 million is needed for system replacements and remodeling in the buildings.

“The buildings are 35 years old and certain infrastructure is in need of repairs,” Weinberg said.

To date, Covenant House I has already completed certain projects, including one of two new walkways, apartment plumbing and electrical repairs and upgrades. In Covenant House II and CHAI, elevators have been modernized and roofs and large kitchen appliances have been replaced.

Additional renovations and repairs for the buildings will continue through funding from Section 8 (low-income housing units) rent increases.

While half of the $4.5 million in contributions will come from donations from community members, the other half will come from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, with assistance from the St. Louis office. HUD’s contribution is subject to annual government funding.

HUD approved rent increases on the Section 8 housing units up to fair market rates, however, Weinberg called the rate increase modest.

“The rent [at Covenant/CHAI] is below market rates,” Weinberg said. “HUD will pay for the building system repairs as long as the rates are not above the rates of the area market,” she said.

Tenants will still pay rent according to their means and HUD will make up the difference.

“The idea is to create the money to go into the reserve fund,” Weinberg said. The plan is expected to raise $2.3 million for the project over 10 years.

Ruth Lederman, assistant executive vice president and director of development for the Jewish Federation of St. Louis, said Covenant/CHAI would continue working to identify other donators and strategies to raise additional funding to meet half of the $4.5 million goal.

“It’s an extremely important program that will help our seniors live a comfortable and safe life,” Lederman said.

“I think we’re lucky to have the community support through their large gifts and support from the St. Louis HUD for their efforts, too,” Weinberg said.