A Haven for the Mentally Ill

METROPOLIS, ILL. Massac County Mental Health had trouble finding homes for its clients, so it took a leap and found a way to help build the needed housing.

The nonprofit organization formed a subsidiary, Light the Way, Inc., to create housing for people with mental illness in Metropolis, a small community known as the home of Superman. With no development experience, the group teamed with Don Yost, a veteran affordable housing developer with roots in the area, to build the 14-unit Haven House. Both have ownership in the project, with Yost as managing member.

Haven House is the first supportivehousing development in Metropolis and Massac County, serving individuals and families with one-, two-, and three-bedroom apartments.

“It is providing housing that many residents didn't have,” says Phyllis Thistlewood, housing director of Light the Way. “Many were homeless and skipping from place to place. It provides a community where people can get together and receive support.”

More than that, it serves as an example of a small-scale supportive-housing development in a rural community, according to supporters.

The apartments are reserved for residents earning no more than 50 percent of the area median income. All units were rented in about 30 days. Residents have access to mental health and counseling provided by Massac County Mental Health, which is three blocks away.

The $2.5 million development had just two main funding sources. The Illinois Housing Development Authority provided $1.5 million from the Illinois Affordable Housing Trust Fund and $1 million in HOME funds. The Corporation for Supportive Housing (CSH) provided a predevelopment loan and technical assistance.

Haven House was part of the CSH Supportive Housing Institute, which assists providers with little or no housing development experience. Light the Way hopes to build more housing in the future. —Donna Kimura

Chuska Breaks New Ground

GALLUP, N.M. The Chuska Apartments is the first of its kind in the state, combining transitional and permanent affordable housing in a single development.

Located in one of New Mexico's poorest regions, the community features 10 transitional housing units for formerly homeless families with children and 20 permanent affordable apartments for working families.

Having a majority of units as permanent housing provides stability for the complex because many families will stay a long time. Another advantage is that the transitionalhousing residents will have an opportunity to stay at the development after the two-year transition period provided there is an opening in the permanent units.

“The project is our first foray out of the Albuquerque metro region,” says Mark Allison, executive director of the Supportive Housing Coalition of New Mexico. “We wanted to make it a model for other communities in the state.”

In addition to serving families earning no more than 30 percent and 60 percent of the area median income, the project is a showcase for sustainable building. Designed to take advantage of passive solar gain, Chuska also features solar panels to heat water.

The $8.1 million development is also notable because it moves homeless services out beyond the big cities, according to Hank Hughes, project manager and executive director of the New Mexico Coalition to End Homelessness. CARE 66 provides Chuska residents with medical, counseling, and other services.

The project is in an old mining town surrounded by Native American tribal land. The area has the second-lowest median income in the state. It is the first affordable housing development supported by Enterprise Community Partners' Rural and Native American Initiative that aims to increase housing in rural areas. —Donna Kimura

Balancing Housing and Nature

SPRINGDALE, UTAH The Red Hawk Apartments achieves two goals—fitting into its spectacular setting and providing affordable housing in a resort town.

Nestled in the shadow of Zion National Park, the 24-unit development is the first low-income housing tax credit (LIHTC) project in Springdale.

This town has few affordable housing options for the many who work in the tourism industry. To help house the workforce, the nonprofit Color Country Community Housing set out on a sevenyear effort to build Red Hawk.

“We pushed through to show what affordable housing can be,” says Ty Tippets, the group's executive director.

First, it took three tries to receive LIHTCs. Red Hawk had trouble competing against larger developments, so developers reduced the size from 30 to 24 units to compete in the small project set-aside.

The development was then nearly derailed when the site was mistakenly shown to be in a floodplain, report developers. After waiting for federal officials to recognize that the site is out of the floodplain, Utah's Congressional members intervened to resolve the situation. Still, valuable time was lost.

The $4.2 million project began construction in May 2008 and was completed seven months later. Red Hawk needed to be done before the end of 2008 or risk recapture of its LIHTCs.

Twenty-two units are affordable, with seven targeting residents earning as low as 37 percent of the area median income. Two apartments are market rate. Color Country is building several nearby single-family homes. Residents receive ongoing education about their unique environment, including the area's protected desert tortoise. Surrounded by soaring cliffs and sandstone monoliths, the project's colors and materials were selected to fit in with the natural surroundings. —Donna Kimura


Developer: Don Yost

Major Funder: Illinois Housing Development Authority


Developer: Supportive Housing Coalition of New Mexico

Major Funders: Enterprise Community Investment, Inc.; Enterprise Community Partners, Inc.; New Mexico Mortgage Finance Authority; State of New Mexico; City of Gallup; Department of Housing and Urban Development; Federal Home Loan Bank of Dallas with Charter Bank; Annenberg Foundation


Developer: Color Country Community Housing, Inc.

Major Funders: American Express; Enterprise Community Investment, Inc.; Utah Housing Corp.; State of Utah; City of Springdale; Five County Association of Governments; Rural Community Assistance Corp.; Utah Community Reinvestment Corp.