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California bishop abandons plans for $2.3m retirement home

Bishop McGrath (CNS)

Bishop Patrick McGrath of San Jose has abandoned plans to move into a retirement home worth $2.3m, saying it would be inappropriate given a local housing crisis.

In a letter dated August 27, he said he “erred in judgment” in the purchase. The Diocese of San Jose tweeted that the bishop “now intends to live in a rectory in one of the parishes in the diocese.”

Bishop McGrath said: “I failed to consider adequately the housing crisis in this valley and the struggles of so many families and communities in light of that crisis.”

According to Zillow, an online real estate and rental marketplace database, the median home value in San Jose, California, is $1,110,800, making it the most expensive housing market in the country.

The local newspaper, the San Jose Mercury News, reported a story on August 26 with the value and other details of the house the diocese bought. It had been purchased with money “designated for this sole purpose” after the sale of a condominium where retired Bishop Pierre DuMaine lived until “he was no longer able to live in it due to failing health,” the bishop said in the letter. The money would not have been able to be used for other purposes.

The house will be put up for sale and any profit will go to Charities Housing, he said.

In the letter, the bishop explained that he had hoped to live in an existing home owned by the diocese on cemetery property, but its retrofitting was going to be expensive and buying a home made economic sense because of the financial return on investment.

The bishop has advocated for the poor and drawn attention to the lack of affordable housing in the area.