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The Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority’s Board of Commissioners has announced the decision to name a 10-unit apartment complex dedicated to housing military veterans and persons with disabilities in honor of Danville City Council member and former mayor Sherman M. Saunders.
The complex at 608 Upper St. will be called “Sherman M. Saunders Court” and will feature one- and two-bedroom, handicap-accessible apartments in the beautifully restored historic building that formerly served as the site of Sledd Memorial Church and the Community Improvement Council Head Start Building.
Mayor Alonzo Jones, who also serves on the DRHA Board of Commissioners, said Saunders is a pillar of the community.
“I will never forget the words of Sherman Saunders when he stepped down four years ago as mayor of Danville after having served as mayor for more than eight years,” Jones recalled. “Sherman talked about how, for all of his life, he simply wanted to be a part of helping to bring people together and to build a stronger community. That is the Sherman Saunders we all know, respect, and admire. It is only fitting that we rename this building in his honor.”
After hearing Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. speak at High Street Baptist Church in Danville, Saunders, at the age of 15, dedicated his life to helping others.
Saunders went on to serve in the U.S. Army and work 42 years with Pittsylvania County Community Action, which is an agency dedicated to lifting people out of poverty.
Saunders understood their needs well because growing up on a farm in Ringgold – there was no indoor plumbing in the family home.
He served as the agency’s executive director for 33 years. Under his leadership, the agency grew from 20 employees to 160 and expanded services to the counties of Campbell, Patrick and Franklin, and the cities of Martinsville and Danville.
Saunders has served on City Council for 22 years and was mayor from Jan. 1, 2008, to June 30, 2016. Also, he has served on numerous local, state and national boards and commissions, including appointments to board and commissions by three former governors of Virginia: Charles Robb, Gerald Baliles, and John Dalton.
Under the direction of retired executive director, Gary Wasson, the Danville Redevelopment and Housing Authority used a mix of low-income housing tax credits and historic tax credits, community development block grant funds from the City of Danville, and funds through the Virginia Housing Trust Fund, Atlanta Federal Home Loan Bank and Virginia Community Capital to renovate this charming building and increase affordable housing opportunities in Danville.
The building will be dedicated Sept. 3 at 6 p.m.
For more information, contact DRHA Executive Director Larissa Deedrich at LDeedrich@DRHAva.com.
For application information, contact Shannon Staton at 434-792-9393 or upperstreet@EPMSITES.com.