The state’s first apartment complex for the chronically homeless is nearing the finishing line in its construction.
The Cross Park Place in Iowa City is being built by the Shelter House. Soon, it will be the home for 24 of the chronically homeless.
Inside, there are 24 modestly sized apartments at just over 300 square feet. The individual bathrooms jet out in the middle of the floor plan to give the feel of two separate living areas. One space has room for a twin size mattress and storage. The other features a small kitchen and room for a living room area.
All of the apartments will come furnished.
Though the spaces may appear small in size, it could be a big difference for people who find themselves often without a home.
“I’m sure they’re going to be thrilled to pieces and just relieved I think to know that they have a space to call their own and a place to lay their heads at night that isn’t outside,” Angelica Vannatta, Shelter House Development Director, said.
The facility comes with no barriers or expectations put on those that will live there.
Shelter House Executive Director Crissy Canganelli said the first of its kind facility for the state is a housing-first initiative.
“There’s a fundamental difference between someone being sheltered, especially a homeless shelter, versus somebody being housed and having their own home,” Canganelli said,
Cross Park Place will be staffed 24 hours a day. It also has office space for caseworkers and a behavioral health clinician to address individual issues.
“Not only serious mental health, chronic substance abuse but chronic healthcare issues overall,” Canganelli said. These are the most vulnerable individuals, people who have been living on the streets of our community, some of them for decades.”
She said the housing-first initiative will help put an end to the cycle of homelessness.
“It’s been demonstrated to show that it will not only save money but lives,” she said.
With treatment on site and removing the homeless aspect from the individual lives, Canganelli said it can cut back on the costs that the homeless can pile on with trips to the emergency room and encounters with law enforcement.
Shelter House expects to open the facility in January. Right now, staff is working on deciding the 24 people that will call it home.
Canganelli said there are 60 people on the list to choose from which only goes to show, she said, how much a facility like it is needed.
The housing is permanent so each person can live there as long as they wish. The only stipulation is that 30% of their income has to go towards rent but they do not expect that everyone will have a job or physically be able to work. Social security, disability, and veteran benefits will cover it if needed.