Ben Carson, Karen Handel tour affordable senior housing in Roswell

HUD Secretary Ben Carson and U.S. Rep. Karen Handel toured the "Veranda at Groveway", an affordable senior living community, in Roswell on Tuesday.

HUD Secretary Ben Carson and U.S. Rep. Karen Handel toured the "Veranda at Groveway", an affordable senior living community, in Roswell on Tuesday.

During a brief visit to Roswell, Dr. Ben Carson, the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, tried to imagine what it would be like if he lived at the “Veranda at Groveway.”

The development, which opened in May, is Roswell’s first low-income and independent living space for seniors. Standing on a rooftop patio of the apartment complex, the former Director of Pediatric Neurosurgery at Johns Hopkins Hospital settled on a place where he would spend most of his time if he resided there.

“Now, this is where I would be,” Carson said while looking out over the Chattahoochee River. “If I lived here.”

Carson, 66, was invited to north Fulton County on Tuesday by U.S. Rep. Karen Handel, R-Roswell, to tour the community. Carson said that Handel touted the “Veranda at Groveway” as a “very good example of a public-private partnership” and a way to provide quality and affordable housing for elderly people.

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As HUD Secretary for President Donald Trump, Carson has said that public-private partnerships are "the answer" to creating affordable housing. Carson recently visited a similar public-private development for affordable housing in Denver.

Carson and Trump have been criticized for proposing a plan to congress that would raise rent for residents of public housing. Elderly and disabled tenants would be exempted, according to a story from the Associated Press.

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The final cost of the 101-unit property on Myrtle Street was $17.5 million.

After a tour of the “Veranda at Roswell,” Carson and Handel led a discussion with community leaders from Atlanta and north Fulton County. Among those in attendance were Sandy Springs mayor Rusty Paul, Roswell mayor Lori Henry, HUD Regional Administrator Denise Cleveland-Leggett and Egbert Perry, an Atlanta developer with the Integral Group.

“What really works here is you have a group of people who actually care about other people and care about the quality of their lives,” Carson said. “Most importantly, they’re Americans who recognize there are other Americans who could benefit from some help.”

"Veranda at Groveway" was approved by Roswell in 2012, according to other media reports. Construction began in August 2016 and residents began moving in last October. It officially opened May 22 with a ribbon cutting.

The development was led by Integral Development, LLC, Schmit and Associates LLC and the Roswell Housing Authority. Public funding came from Roswell, the Federal Housing Authority and state and federal equity.

Handel, who is preparing to face Democratic challenger Lucy McBath for Georgia's 6th District Congressional seat in November, was happy to host Carson for his short stay in north Fulton County.

“This is such a great project here to recognize the efforts that are happening in the community to build affordable housing,” Handel said. “These are long-term approaches to moving people towards financial stability and I’m just very proud to see the efforts that are happening here in the 6th District.”

Carson said that as he was touring the complex, he kept searching for what was missing. To his surprise, he couldn’t find anything. “Veranda at Groveway” even has a pool table.

“The units are beautiful. They have everything a person could want in them. They even have recreational facilities,” Carson said. “It’s really a wonderful setting that’s provided here. It’s the kind of place that you would like you parents to live in. It’s the kind of place that you would like for yourself, and really, that should be the model that we utilize.”

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Some say the councilman opposed the project in public but supported it behind closed doors.