Monday, December 8, 2003

Transitional homes to open

N.Ky. apartments to be temporary shelter

By Cindy Schroeder
The Cincinnati Enquirer

COVINGTON - Angela Haley is finally getting a place to live.

The 29-year-old Northern Kentucky native has been living since July at a drug treatment center while she's battled an addiction to OxyContin. Before that, she lived on the streets.

In about a week, Haley will become one of the first residents of an 11-unit transitional apartment building for people who had been homeless. Supporters say it addresses a critical need.

"Northern Kentucky has a shortage of affordable housing, especially for single adults," said Jennifer Shofner, chair of the Northern Kentucky Housing and Homeless Coalition. "One-bedroom apartments and efficiency units like these are in great demand."

The Willow Run Transitional Apartments in the 200 block of East 12th Street will open to tenants Dec. 17, said Mac McArthur, executive director of Transitions Inc. The 34-year-old Bellevue-based agency helps Northern Kentuckians break the cycle of substance abuse, violence, crime and poverty.

"This is not a drug and alcohol treatment program," McArthur said. "It's not a halfway house. These are 11 efficiency units for people who used to be homeless."

McArthur described the transitional units as "a half-step between homelessness and having your own big, grand and glorious apartment."

Most of the tenants have been through substance abuse or job readiness programs and are ready for a temporary arrangement before moving into permanent housing, he said. A case manager will have an office in the building to advise tenants on everything from saving money and paying taxes to getting a better job.

Tenants, who can earn no more than $13,500 a year, will be limited to an 18-month stay,McArthur said. They will pay 30 percent of their net income in rent so they can save money for permanent housing.

"Some may have had a substance abuse problem," McArthur said. "For others, it could be a mental health issue or physical health problem (that led them to become homeless). In other cases, it could be situational."

Transitions Inc. led a collaborative of five agencies in developing the project. It was paid for with the help of a $350,000 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD).



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