Melody Blake sobbed, but they were tears of joy, as she stood in a tent Tuesday outside the pristine new Kansas City townhome unit that soon will be her home.
“I am very excited to be here,” Blake said as she described how officials with reStart’s homeless services agency had offered her a lifeline to get out of the terrible rental unit where she and her 5-year-old daughter have been living.
Blake and 32 other families will soon move into the new $6.7 million, 33-unit Rose Hill Townhomes, built at Admiral Boulevard and Troost Avenue. Workers were putting the finishing touches on the supportive housing project Tuesday, and officials expect the families to begin occupying their affordable units by mid-December.
“We believe all housing should be dignified, safe and the best possible quality,” Evelyn Craig, president and CEO of reStart, said as she surveyed one of the spacious and attractive townhomes before Tuesday’s grand opening celebration. The townhomes are not transitional but are intended as permanent housing for formerly homeless families. They have all the amenities of market-rate housing, including full kitchens, large closets, in-unit washers and dryers, and energy-efficient construction.
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Blake, 26, told the gathered crowd that she suffered a stroke two years ago. As a result, she lost her job and home. She and her daughter, Nicole, bounced around from house to house and finally ended up living out of her car for a few days. She was referred to reStart transitional housing, but said at first she was too proud and left prematurely to move into a new place, which she said was the most terrible place she had ever endured. Then reStart told her about an available unit at Rose Hill.
She’s still in her broken-down home but soon will move into Rose Hill. It’s a lifesaving opportunity, she said, and one for which she and her daughter are deeply thankful.
“I’m happy to have a place that’s comfortable, clean and where the plumbing actually works,” she said.
Some Rose Hill residents will come from Chouteau Courts, a property that the Housing Authority is phasing out over the next two years. Reina Murray, a Chouteau Courts resident, said she, her wife and two children will soon move into Rose Hill.
She, too, fought back tears as she told the gathering, “My kids, they are ecstatic.”
The project was made possible by low-income housing tax credits from the Missouri Housing Development Commission. Financing was provided by Bank of America, Sugar Creek Capital and the city of Kansas City. A $250,000 grant from the Wells Fargo Foundation will help provide support services to the families.
The development team included Affordable Housing of Kansas City (a nonprofit affiliate of the Kansas City Housing Authority); Brian Collins/Dromara Development; Scott Associates, architects; Taliaferro & Browne, engineering; and Dowcon Construction, general contractor.