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New, affordable housing opens in Tallahassee for people experiencing homelessness

Posted at 6:30 PM, Aug 21, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-21 18:30:46-04

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (WTXL) — There is a crisis in Florida and across the nation when it comes to affordable housing, but a newly renovated apartment building is offering housing to people experiencing homelessness.

"It's beautiful when you have your own privacy and being yourself," said Edward Early, a tenant at Mockingbird Apartments. "That's cool you know and I love it."

For people experiencing homelessness privacy is a luxury, not a right. But now, for some, that's all changed thanks to the newly renovated Mockingbird Garden Apartments which is low barrier housing.

"People are not required to put up large deposits, they are not required to pay last months rents, they don't have utility deposits to pay and they don't have to worry about a credit check or the fact that they have been evicted," said Chuck White, the co-founder of the Kearney Center.

The Kearney Center and the owners of the Mockingbird Garden Apartments, Jalousie Bay Holdings, are partnering to bring more affordable housing to those experiencing homelessness.

The developers provide the housing. The Kearney Center provides the tenants from their clientele.

"It's baby steps... but for us it's giant steps to get back and being a functioning part of society," said Julie Phelps, a tenant at Mockingbird Garden Apartments.

White says this model of having private sector companies provide affordable housing is a big step toward eliminating homelessness. Another is having companies like NAP Construction, one of the Cascades Project's developers, give Kearney Center clients jobs and training which they have done for about 30 people so far.

"When our individuals are able to get employed and get steady employment, that puts them in a position where they can actually seek out private sector units to rent such as the mockingbird apartments," said White.

For those experiencing homelessness, their new Mockingbird apartment is just the solid foundation they needed to build a new future.

"I had one guy, he almost brought me to tears, he was almost in tears," said Givens, who works at the Kearney Center. "He said, 'You know Mr. Lucious, I've never had a place of my own.'"

Chuck White of the Kearney Center says private sector can and needs to be part of the solution in the housing and homeless crisis that we all face in our communities.

The Mockingbird Garden Apartments is located at 101 Cactus Street.