September 15, 2011; Source: Record-Courier | Just when you think that this nation is losing a sense of what nonprofits are and what they can do, you find new stories like this one from Ravenna, Ohio that tell you that some people really do get it.

In Ravenna, there is a 200-unit senior citizen complex that is on the skids. A group called the Capstone Development Corporation is negotiating to acquire the Silver Oaks Place complex to convert it to student housing. Obviously, Capstone wants a pretty much empty building, so the owner notified all tenants in July that they had to leave by October 1st. Unable to find alternative housing, some 40 tenants are left. Some who have lived in the building for 25 to 30 years. The research will tell you that residential displacement is a horrible, disruptive event for anyone, but for seniors, doubly so.

Recognizing this, the Community Action Council of Portage County has stepped in and contacted Capstone about acquiring the property to be maintained as affordable senior citizen housing. As of yesterday, Capstone hadn’t responded. The CAC works with a lot of the Silver Oaks tenants and broached the idea with them earlier this week. One of the tenants, 76-year-old Mary Maske, pronounced the idea “fantastic,” and said, “Being owned by a nonprofit means that there’s a commitment to the people who live here to make it as fine a community as possible and to keep rents reasonable.”

When people complain that no one “gets” nonprofits, they should talk to Mary Maske, who in one sentence grasped more than many other people. We hope that the CAC is able to get Capstone into negotiations to work a deal to save the apartments of these tenants.—Rick Cohen