Monday, May 28, 2012

Maricopa County approves housing project

The Maricopa County Board of Supervisors has decided to spend $3.8 million in federal funds to purchase and rehabilitate a Phoenix complex to house veterans and low-income and formerly homeless residents.

Catholic Charities Community Services, a non-profit, is in escrow for the Villa Tomas Apartments near 52nd Street and Thomas Road in Phoenix. After renovation, slated to begin this fall, there will be at least 46 studio, one-bedroom and two-bedroom units.

The complex is scheduled to open in summer 2013.

Maricopa County will use part of its Neighborhood Stabilization Program funds from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. The county uses the money to work with community partners to buy abandoned homes, fix them up and sell or rent them to low-income families.

The county is required to provide at least 25 percent of the available units for residents who do not exceed 50 percent of the area's median income.

But at this property, all of the residents will fit that criterion, meaning they need help finding permanent housing. The target population is veterans or formerly homeless families coming out of transitional housing.

The county Board of Supervisors unanimously voted last week to use neighborhood-stabilization funds for the project.

"It creates less burden on taxpayers. Otherwise, you recycle them through emergency services," said Ursula Strephans, acting assistant director of community development at the county Human Services Department.

Catholic Charities will own the property and provide services for residents.

Steve Capobres, vice president of Catholic Charities in Phoenix, said the goal is to create a community environment for the residents to help them get reintegrated into society.

Veterans are used to working and living with a group of soldiers and homeless families may have lived at transitional shelters for up to two years, interacting with volunteers, staff and other families, he said.

"They need that support system. A lot of times, these clients, the reason they have issues is they've lost that support system. They've lost that family," Capobres said. "So where we come in is, essentially, we create that family and create that community."

Services and programming will be voluntary for residents.

They will range from events like barbecues and farmers markets to counseling and classes on various topics, such as parenting.

by Michelle Ye Hee Lee - May. 27, 2012 09:11 PM The Republic |

Maricopa County approves housing project

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