Community leaders and homeless advocates today celebrated the expansion of a housing development for people experiencing homelessness, mental health conditions, and addiction.
The second phase of Briggsdale Apartments adds 40 one-bedroom units to the 35 that were built in 2006. Located on the southwest side of Columbus along Harrisburg Pike, Briggsdale's design reflects and respects the Briggs family farm originally on the property. Financial assistance limits the portion of rent paid by residents to 30 percent of their incomes. The apartments offer permanent, supportive housing to individuals struggling with homelessness, mental illness, and addiction. The complex has 24-hour staffing and onsite support services.
"An improved computer lab and more flexible spaces for people so that everybody has an opportunity to engage," Community Housing Network CEO Sam Shuler explained. "We appreciate everybody's support to offer these expanded opportunities. Briggsdale II just in the capital cost was $9 million. The operations are $300,000 per year. Services are $145,000 per year. So there's a lot that goes into this and a variety of funders we depend on. We're so grateful for their support. They’re instrumental in our success."
Those funders include the Affordable Housing Trust for Columbus and Franklin County, the Alcohol, Drug and Mental Health Board of Franklin County, the City of Columbus and the Community Shelter Board. CSB Executive Director Michelle Heritage called the project a victory, but one that needs to be replicated.
"Because 500 or so people tonight in this community are going to sleep on our streets," Heritage noted. "Many of them are young. They're all scared. They're all in crisis. 1,400 people are going to sleep in our shelters tonight. When we bring this kind of housing on line, those folks get to go home. We need a lot more of this. We're still 1,000 units short.”
Heritage and others say they're confident more can be accomplished by collective efforts like Briggsdale Apartments. They're hoping for more success stories like resident and recovering addict James McCary.
"Since moving here, I've found out about a lot of services available to me thanks to the staff, because I didn't know and didn't care," McCary acknowledged. "What they did was encourage me to do better and to let me know that I could do better."
McCary says his kids and family are also slowly coming back into his life, and he's been clean and sober for almost five months