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No home? New housing developement offers refuge/Suiting up/Operatics

Danielle Horvath - November 23rd, 2009
No Home? New housing development offers refuge
By Danielle Horvath
Being homeless can happen to anyone, even for former NBA players like David Vaughn who blew through $22 million and ended up sleeping in his Chevy Impala. Or, it can be a single mom with two kids who escapes an abusive relationship and is living in a campground with winter coming and who still has no job. At least 1.35 million children in the U.S. are homeless during the year -- over 200,000 on any given day.
The Goodwill Inn homeless shelter in Traverse City averages 80 people each day. The shelter served almost 1,000 persons over the past year. There’s no way of knowing how may people in the Northern Michigan area are homeless, but what is known is that the need is growing.
Any set of circumstances can affect someone’s living situation – losing a job, going through a divorce, changes in family or support system, having an accident or health crisis, getting in trouble with the law, becoming addicted to drugs or alcohol, making poor choices with money or credit, and the list goes on.
To help meet some of this need, HomeStretch, a nonprofit regional developer of affordable housing since 1996, is developing a 24-unit housing project next to the Goodwill Inn on Keystone Road. The project will include six one-bedroom units at 640 square feet, and 18 two-bedroom units at 854 square feet. Once completed, Keystone Village will be the largest supportive housing project of its kind in the area for those who need help getting their lives back on track.
The new units will be available for rent with a one-bedroom unit going for $600 and two-bedroom housing for $700.
How can people who are homeless or without jobs pay the rent? The Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA) is providing 24 rental vouchers for families and individuals who are at or below 30% of the area median income. The vouchers mean that tenants will only be required to pay 30% of their gross income.
“There has been tremendous support from the community,” said HomeStretch Executive Director William Merry, “Garfield Township has been great to work with, and I think we’ve shown the community that with over 100 units of affordable housing in the area, it can be done. We could build more if the financing was there.”
The new housing units are not for rent to the general population. Potential residents must be at or below 30 percent of the area median income to qualify. Examples of those who may benefit include homeless families and individuals, homeless youth and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault.
Ten area human services agencies will be working with residents of Keystone Village on issues that go beyond the need for shelter. Some may need help from the Women’s Resource Center to get out of a violent relationship; or support from Northern Lakes Community Mental Health for a physical or mental disability; or they may have long-term health problems, substance abuse issues, or need help with job training, transportation, child care, food, clothing or other needs.
For Keystone Village, HomeStretch was awarded a Low-Income Housing Tax Credit (LIHTC) from the Michigan State Housing Development Authority (MSHDA.) Additional financing will also be provided by MSHDA through the Campaign to End Homelessness Initiative and HOME programs, the Federal Home Loan Bank of Indianapolis Affordable Housing Program and Fifth Third Bank.
HomeStretch has served Antrim, Benzie, Grand Traverse, Kalkaska, and Leelanau counties in building and rehabilitating affordable homes for low-income families since 1996.

UPDATES...
... on recent stories in Northern Express:

SUITING UP: The City of Traverse City is planning to file suit against Charter Communications in response to the cable company‘s plan to relocate four public access television channels, 2, 13, 98 and 99 to the far end of the digital listings in the 900 block this December.
Critics claim that this would make public access TV hard to find. They would also be sandwiched between Charter‘s porn channels and music channels, which can reportedly interfere with sound and visuals -- no pun intended.

OPERATICS: As the Express went to press, TC‘s Downtown Development Association was poised to give their recommendation regarding the management of the City Opera House by the Wharton Center in Lansing. A City Commission study group was set to meet Monday, Nov. 23 to consider the matter, including the inclusion of acts at the Opera House of interest to a younger clientele.
Recently, Porterhouse Productions had to bow out on initial concert commitments to Govt. Mule, Big Bad Voodoo Daddy, Belinda Carlise and Modest Mouse because of uncertainty over its role under the new deal. Look for details in next week‘s Express.
In the meantime, Sam Porter of Porterhouse Productions reports that he‘s concentrating on his house concert series, which moves to Little Bo‘s in TC on Monday, Nov. 30 for a show with acoustic folk-pop duo Storyhill. The Red House recording artists typically fill 700-capacity theaters in the Rocky Mountain states.

 
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