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Low-cost housing – Boost for homeless

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By Todd Cohen

GREENSBORO, N.C. — Affordable housing in Greensboro is getting a boost, thanks to the efforts of two charities that serve poor people.

To help families move from homelessness to owning homes, Habitat for Humanity of Greater Greensboro and Greensboro Urban Ministry are building 24 apartments at Partnership Village, an 11-acre complex the two groups began developing in 1998 on Greenbriar Road in North Greensboro.

Partnership Homes, a nonprofit that Habitat and Urban Ministry formed to develop the complex, completed 32 studio apartments there in 1999.

Construction is financed by investors in return for tax credits they buy from Partnership Homes, which gets the credits from the N.C. Housing Finance Agency for renting apartments to low-income tenants.

Partnership Homes also has landed a $400,000 grant from the Federal Home Loan Bank of Atlanta and a $150,000 loan from the city of  Greensboro for the $1.9 million family-apartment project.

The family apartments are being built to help bridge the gap between the services offered by Urban Ministry, which runs a homeless shelter for families, and Habitat, which works with volunteers to build homes purchased by low-income families.

“We were looking at the housing needs and how homeless people can’t really go from the shelter into decent housing,” says Bob Kelley, Habitat’s executive director.

People living in Partnership Village work with a case manager who provides support in areas ranging from drug counseling to job skills.

Mike Aiken, Urban Ministry’s executive director, says the collaborative effort furthers Urban Ministry’s goal of providing new services to “help people break the cycles of hunger, homelessness and poverty.”

In addition to the family apartments, which are scheduled to be completed this fall, Partnership Village also is getting a $1 million child-care center for 180 youngsters, and *a $1 million emergency shelter to house 16 families and replace Urban Ministry’s Pathways Family Shelter at 620 Martin St. downtown.

The child-care center, which will serve children from Partnership Village and nearby neighborhoods, will be run by United Child Development Services in Greensboro.

And once the initial family apartments are finished, Partnership Homes will build another 16 family apartments at a cost of $1.4 million.

At the same time, Habitat continues to build houses in East Greensboro off East Market Street. Habitat, which was formed in 1987 and has built 163 houses, will build 27 houses this year, up from 22 last year.

Habitat has built six houses on a 41-lot subdivision it owns and will begin developing a 110-lot subdivision nearby after completing construction on the first subdivision by the middle of 2002.

The city of Greensboro is investing $1.2 million in streets and water and sewer lines at the subdivision.

Habitat plans to launch a fundraising campaign late this summer to raise $1.5 million to continue building houses.

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