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New Cape Girardeau mental health project provides housing for disabled
Glenda Greiwe has a new home where she now feels safe. She knows her neighbors at the Boehme-Hinni Apartments, built this year by the Community Counseling Center. She likes them.
"Before, I didn't know my neighbors; they came and went so fast. Here they will be more stationary," she said. "Liking your neighbors is very important."
Greiwe was one of the first residents to move into the Boehme-Hinni Apartments when they were completed in late September. The 10-unit, $1.4 million complex on North Silver Springs Road was funded through a Section 811 grant from the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development to provide housing for low-income people with disabilities.
Greiwe, who has been a client at the Community Counseling Center for 22 years and serves on its Consumer Advisor Board, said she and her neighbors are getting comfortable with their new homes and getting to know one another.
The apartment complex was designed to create opportunities for residents to interact with each other. It includes a community room and common outdoor areas for residents to spend time together. Mental health service providers say projects like this fill a huge need for special housing for those with mental health issues.
"That sense of community is very much needed to foster recovery. They need to be around people where they feel like they belong," said John Hudak, executive director of the Community Counseling Center, which serves Cape Girardeau, Perry, Bollinger, Madison and Ste. Genevieve counties.
Mental health professionals agree, Hudak said, that clients can't focus on recovery until they have a stable place to call home.
"They have to put down roots. It helps them follow through with whatever treatment they require," he said.
Many of the center's clients live with family, and while this may provide some emotional support, it's not always a permanent arrangement, Hudak said.
"We have many people who really don't have a place to live. To have a resource like this available for folks who don't really have a permanent roof over their head of any kind is the way to go," he said.
This is the second project of its kind by the Community Counseling Center, which also owns a similar housing project in Fredericktown, Mo., built in 2008. Both complexes are managed by a third-party HUD-certified management group.
The counseling center is looking for additional grant funding and sites throughout its service area to do more housing projects in the future, said Larry Ream, director of facilities for the Community Counseling Center.
"If we have more of these available, it relieves some of the anxiety people face every day," Greiwe said.
There was a waiting list of 35 people and a tedious application process for the 10 units available in Cape Girardeau, she said.
"There is a need for affordable housing for the mentally disabled, not just in Cape Girardeau, but in the other areas they serve, too," Greiwe said.
According to the last count of homeless conducted in January by the Missouri Association for Social Welfare and the Missouri Housing Development Commission, there were 211 homeless people in Region 1 of Missouri -- made up of the five counties in the Community Counseling Center's coverage area as well as Franklin, Jefferson, Crawford, Washington, Iron and St. Francois counties.
In the region, 67 percent of unsheltered homeless people suffered from mental illnesses, as did 4.7 percent of those in shelters.
Statewide, excluding St. Louis and Kansas City, there were 1,496 sheltered homeless, with 9.8 percent of those suffering from mental illnesses, and 645 unsheltered individuals, with 19 percent of those affected by mental illness.
Among the homeless counted in the survey, mental illness was the second most-common disability, occurring more often than physical disabilities. Substance abuse, often connected to mental illness, was the most common disability, according to the study.
In addition to providing the grant to build the new apartments, HUD will provide subsidies for residents to ensure they do not pay more than 30 percent of their monthly income on rent.
"For folks who have a disability by virtue of their illness, resources available to them are sparse," Hudak said. "Often, they can't afford a decent place to live. Their rents continue to go up, but their income tends to stay the same."
The building is Energy Star-certified, which should help keep residents utility bills low, Ream said. It was built with energy-efficient materials and features LED lighting and Energy Star appliances.
549 N. Silver Springs Road, Cape Girardeau, MO