$8.5M apartment housing project providing shelter for chronically homeless in St. Louis


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ST. LOUIS — An $8.5 million project in St. Louis is providing apartment housing for the chronically homeless.

Ten people have moved into the Garfield Place Apartments Safe Haven since it opened last month, and 15 more are expected soon, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch (http://bit.ly/1vp9hDC ) reported.

Men and women sign one-year leases for the apartments, which have about a $475 monthly rent. Tenants can receive rental assistance from a state program.

Curesa Atkins, 42, recently moved into a one-bedroom apartment after facing the end of her allotted stay at a temporary women's shelter.

"It took a while for me to call it home," she said. "I kept waiting for somebody to tell me to leave."

The facility, a former property of the St. Louis Public Schools District, has a $650,000 operating budget. Most meals are provided to residents. A waiting list has already opened and closed for the apartments. A nurse and social worker are expected to be hired soon.

Adam Pearson, who runs the program, said it costs taxpayers more to not help the homeless. He mentioned federal statistics that suggest each homeless person costs taxpayers $40,000 a year.

"Keeping them on the streets costs quite a bit, and it doesn't solve the problem," he said.

The chronically homeless include people struggling with a disability who repeatedly end up living on the streets. They make up a small part of the homeless population, but put stress on public services because of frequent visits to emergency rooms and jails.

Peter and Paul Community Services, a nonprofit human services agency that built the apartments, said the idea for the so-called permanent housing came in 2007, two years after the city and county set out on a 10-year plan to end chronic homelessness. It shifted the reliance on emergency shelters and focused more on putting people into subsidized housing.

The Garfield apartments project is being paid for with donations, grants and $6.5 million in low-income housing tax credits and historic tax credits.

Information from: St. Louis Post-Dispatch, http://www.stltoday.com

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