A new development in the heart of the Ozarks is providing a beacon of hope for formerly homeless individuals and other low-income households.
“Springfield, Mo., has a big disconnect between wages and housing costs so we have lots of people who are paying more than 30 percent or 50 percent of their income on housing,” says Randy McCoy, director of housing for The Kitchen, Inc., a local nonprofit that provides support services to the Springfield community.
The Kitchen partnered with for-profit developer Housing Plus, also based in Springfield, to build the 44-unit Beacon Village, which is a mix of duplexes and a 16-unit apartment building. The duplexes started leasing at the end of 2013, while the apartment building was completed in July and occupied within two and a half weeks.
Twenty units are home to formerly homeless individuals, four are set aside for individuals who have disabilities and are clients of The Arc of the Ozarks, a local nonprofit service provider, and the remaining 20 units serve low-income families. In addition, 20 units have Shelter Plus Care subsidies so residents pay no more than 30 percent of their income on rent.
“It's important for The Kitchen to not just create a homeless shelter,” says McCoy. “We want to give opportunities for people exiting homelessness to have affordable housing, but it’s important to us to have a good mix of incomes and backgrounds. We do believe that positive modeling can occur.”
The Kitchen and Catholic Charities of Southern Missouri provide support services for the residents, including case management, health screenings, and financial literacy and nutrition classes. Services also are being coordinated with other area organizations. Missouri State University’s registered nursing program sends nurses to the site to do service hours and gain experience, and every other week a mobile food pantry truck comes to the project. The Missouri Career Center mobile unit has also made stops at the development.
Beacon Village, which is built to National Green Building Standards, focuses on energy efficiency to help lower residents’ utility bills. All units include low-E windows as well as Energy Star appliances, HVAC systems, and hot water heaters. It also incorporates universal design, and all of the units are built to be adaptable for residents’ needs.
The $6.6 million development was financed with state and federal low-income housing tax credits, purchased by CRA Investments, and a soft HOME loan from the Missouri Housing Development Commission.
“On the human side, we see people all the time who are down on their luck or hit a point in their life where they are really struggling and find themselves in a shelter with people with the same difficulties,” says Rorie Orgeron, The Kitchen’s CEO. “At Beacon Village, people are smiling all the time. This is a real dream come true for a lot of people. It's really what we're looking for—to help them financially and spiritually.”