RIVER EDGE Behavioral Health Center recently opened 18 units of housing for formerly homeless and mentally ill individuals and families in Macon, Ga.

First Neighborhood was financed almost entirely with $2.2 million in Neighborhood Stabilization Program (NSP) funds provided by the Georgia Department of Community Affairs.

Developers believe that First Neighborhood is one of the first projects in the country to use NSP to create permanent supportive housing.

Most people think of NSP as a tool to combat single-family home foreclosures, but it can also be used to turn around blighted and abandoned properties, says Jay Green, principal of L&JG Development, LLC, the development partner.

One such troubled site has become First Neighborhood, a community of nine craftsman-style duplexes. Rental subsidies are provided by the federal Shelter Plus Care program.

For the residents who moved from a shelter, the apartments are a dream come true, says Cynthia Patterson, director of permanent supportive housing for River Edge.

First Neighborhood is allowing residents to live independently, reintegrate into the community, and receive key supportive services.