Emerald Commons will offer permanent supportive low income housing
by Niki Nohejl

(Plain Press, June 2005) The Emerald Commons is currently under development and will soon be the home to 52 single homeless people on West 79th Street and Madison Ave.     

The plans for Emerald Commons are currently being finalized with the contractor, with completion estimated for 2006.    

Director of Emerald Development & Economic Network (EDEN Inc.), Kathy Kazol said, “We are just beginning to work on the details of the operation of this project and will be very involved with our service agency partners in determining how this project will develop. This will be taking place over the next few months. Since this is the first permanent supported low income housing tax credit project in Cleveland, it is important that we meet all of the requirements attached to the funding of these projects.”

According to the EDEN Inc.’s website, it is a housing development agency whose goal is to increase the number of affordable housing to people who have low income and disabilities. “(EDEN) works collaboratively with other community organizations, private developers, and government agencies to fulfill its mission,” the website states.

The rent at this housing facility will be set according to U.S Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) guidelines which are set by Congress, so residents will pay 30% of their income.

The tenants will be leasing through EDEN Inc., and will have to follow certain guidelines. They will be expected to keep up with their lease agreements and follow any other requirements connected to the building. Kazol said, “We will be working with all of the shelters and transitional programs to identify persons who would meet the eligibility requirements and who wish to live at the Emerald Commons.”

The residents will also have access to social service agencies such as Mental Health Services, Inc., Recovery Resources and the AIDS task force. “The staff from these agencies will also assist tenants in hooking up with other resources and services that tenants want or need including health or medical employment, education and other community services,” Kazol said.  “EDEN Inc. will provide oversight for the building and that will include a 24 hour staff person in order to assure safety and security at the apartment building.”

Bill Resseger, Executive Assistant for Cleveland’s Department of Community Development, said there are homeless people who suffer long-term disabilities who live on the streets instead on shelters.  This type of housing is necessary for those with disabilities because it’s hard for them to find a permanent home.

“Most persons that find themselves homeless at some point in their lives will not need the level of assistance provided through permanent supportive housing. For those whose disabilities have made obtaining and keeping a stable residence most difficult, permanent supportive housing is a critical and necessary approach,” Resseger said.

He believes this is a goal for the community’s continuous care for the homeless because they are able to move from shelters into permanent housing, which has broken the homeless cycle in other cities.  He explains that supportive low-income housing is an apartment building essentially, with the access of comprehensive services, and a 24 hour a day staffing and security. It is called permanent housing because there is no limit on how long a person can live there.  

“For some, achieving this may require only help in locating affordable housing or assistance in finding employment that pays a living wage. Others may have issues that can be resolved through a limited term stay in a transitional housing program or through placement in a scattered site unit with access to case management services,” Resseger said.

There are other projects similar to the Emerald Commons that are in different planning stages. Resseger said the 44-unit downtown building at 1850 Superior Avenue is being renovated into a low-income housing facility by the Famicos Foundation. In addition, work is underway to secure the financing for a new low-income apartment building at East 100th and St. Clair Ave. Construction will start in 2006, and other sites are being evaluated for future projects.


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