Hanging out together to play solitaire on computers in the business center at their apartment building is just one new thing that's going on in the lives of Ruby Mobley, 73, and Geneva White, 70.
The building, Trinity Terrace, is another new thing -- the seniors-only Temple Hills building opened in August.
And the friendship between the two women is new, too. They didn't know each other until they moved in. Now, they usually eat breakfast and dinner together and say that family members give them a hard time about spending so much time together.
"My daughter calls every night," White said. "She says, 'Oh, you came home, I guess you were in Miss Ruby's room.' "
Trinity Terrace, which has 72 one-bedroom apartments, is restricted to people 62 years or older, with a maximum income level of $30,450 per year for a family of one. It was developed through a public-private partnership between the federal government and the Catholic Church. Victory Housing Inc., which built and runs the building, is the affordable housing agency of the Catholic Archdiocese of Washington.
John D. Spencer, Victory Housing's vice president and chief operating officer, said the Department of Housing and Urban Development provided $5.8 million in capital grants. There were also other smaller grants from the state, the county and a foundation. HUD provides subsidies and residents pay 30 percent of their income for rent. The land the apartment is built on is being provided by the archdiocese through a long-term lease.
"Our goal is to provide safe, decent, sanitary housing for people in need, especially senior housing," Spencer said. "We feel those folks have built our community, and we want to provide for them in later years."
Susan Gibbs, the communications director for the archdiocese, said, "One of the challenges is that Washington, D.C., is so expensive, seniors on fixed incomes and low-income families are simply priced out of the market. By working in public-private partnerships, we ensure that there are options for them. There is still a huge amount of need."
Both individual units and common areas are designed with independent older residents in mind. On the first floor, where Mobley and White live, the apartments have roll-in showers, easing wheelchair use. Each apartment also has two emergency pulls, one each in the bedroom and the bathroom.
Among the numerous community spaces on the first floor are an activities room and a library, which a librarian from the county visits every seven weeks. The spacious separate community room has a large television set; residents gather there to watch football on Sundays. It also has an attached kitchen equipped with an ice machine, two dishwashers, large refrigerator and a pot of coffee made every morning by the staff. Each floor also has its own community room with cable television.
Community manager Arlita Matthews said a podiatrist will be visiting to work on people's feet in the wellness center, and that the finishing touches are being put on a beauty salon.
Vera Glenn, 66, moved to Trinity Terrace last month. "I used to live in a senior citizens home," she said. "It is no comparison, this is a whole lot better. For one, the rent is cheaper. The place is just better, more things to do here."
A free bus comes to the building every Tuesday to take residents to run errands. Residents can also use Call-A-Bus, which costs 50 cents per ride and will take them anywhere in Prince George's County.
But Della Banks, 77, said regular bus service is problematic on weekends when the Call-A-Bus service isn't running. The community is at the bottom of a hill, so residents must walk up it to catch the bus. She said that while she doesn't have problems climbing that hill now, she wonders if it will be a concern as she gets older. Matthews said management is working with the county to have the bus stop moved closer.
Lenora Lambert, 75, said she likes the building a lot. "It's fantastic. It is so beautiful and quiet," she said. "I use everything." This includes the meditation room, which is decorated with rectangular stained glass windows and several straight-backed chairs.
"I go in and relax," she said.
Dorothy Tolson, 62, joined Mobley and White one day recently in the computer room. Tolson said living at Trinity Terrace is "like living in a hotel, except we just don't have room service."
The other women laughed and talked about helping their neighbors.
"I cook for them and clean sometimes," Tolson said.
White said, "I do whatever they need to be done."
For Tolson, the sense of community is important. "Since I lost my mom, it fills my need," she said. "I don't have anyone to take care of, so I take care of everyone else."
The building offers peace and quiet, too. Mobley said, "I lived in Washington, right near RFK Stadium. All I heard day and night were ambulances, police cars and helicopters. Since I've been here, I don't hear anything but a good night's sleep."
White's situation was different. "Mine was not so bad; I lived with my daughter and her three children. It is nice living on my own with people my own age," she said. "I love the family, but I love the quietness. I have a 10-year-old grandson, and sometimes it would sound like he had five or six friends in there, but it was just him."
A walking path encircles the building. "I do it every day, twice a day," Tolson said.
White laughed and said, "She's energetic; I do it once a day."