In an effort to combat homelessness and provide safe, affordable living for clients in need, the Spindletop Center broke ground on the Cottages of Spindletop, its third apartment complex for persons with disabilities, on Thursday, Aug. 29. The complex will be on its south campus on land adjacent to its mental health outpatient clinic at South Eighth Street near Washington Boulevard in Beaumont.
The Spindletop Center, formerly Spindletop MHMR, serves people with mental illness, intellectual and developmental abilities, substance abuse issues and early child development delays in Jefferson, Orange, Hardin and Chambers counties.
“Part of recovery is having a good, safe place to live,” Spindletop Housing Administrator Brandy Mouton said in an interview. “It’s key to recovery.”
According to a press release, the Spindletop Center believes that lack of access to affordable housing can be a serious impediment to the recovery of a person with a mental illness, a substance abuse issue or an intellectual disability. To help the situation for its clients, the center opened one affordable apartment complex in October 2010. Using funds from additional grants, a second complex known as The Courtyard at Spindletop opened its doors with great fanfare at a ribbon-cutting ceremony Oct. 25, 2012. In November 2011, the center learned that it had been chosen to receive more than $1.5 million in funding from the Department of Housing and Urban Development to build, from the ground up, a third apartment block. The housing unit, like the other two units, will be located on the Center’s South Campus.
Oct. 16, 2011, HUD announced that it had granted $749 million in housing assistance to help very low-income senior citizens and persons with disabilities. Grants include construction projects and rental assistance. The grant funding awarded under HUD’s Sections 202 and 811 Supportive Housing programs will assist in construction or major rehabilitation on more than 189 housing developments in 41 different states and Puerto Rico. When complete, more than 4,800 people will have affordable housing and access to needed services, according to information provided by the Spindletop Center.
Mouton said that in addition to the HUD grants being utilized for the construction of the new complex, the city of Beaumont contributed $350,000 in HOME funds, and the Spindletop Center contributed approximately $400,000.
Applicants must be “very low income” with household incomes less than 50 percent of their median for that area. However, most households that receive Section 811 or Section 202 assistance earn less than 30 percent of the median for their area. Generally, this means that a one-person household will have an annual income of about $13,500, according to HUD. Spindletop’s funding will come from Section 811 (disabilities) and apartments will be offered to Spindletop Center clients with mental illness, substance abuse problems and intellectual disabilities.
“Just imagine trying to manage a condition like a mental illness diagnosis, remember to take your medications and get to your scheduled appointments when you don’t have a stable place to live,” said Sally Walden Broussard, chief authority officer for Spindletop. “We are so pleased to be able to provide these facilities for our clients, and we are thrilled that HUD thinks this is a worthwhile project.”
In addition to providing affordable housing, the three apartment complexes are located next to a municipal bus stop and are just steps away from the treatment facilities the residents utilize.
The first set of apartments has proved that access to housing does help people with recovery, Spindletop Center residents assert.
Said one resident of the current apartment complex, “I wouldn’t have made it on the street. … There’s no way I could make it out there.”
Another said of his first night in his new apartment, “I was overwhelmed. I never thought I’d be in a place this nice.”
With the groundbreaking ceremony, construction is underway on the 14-unit building, which will have an apartment manager living in a 15th unit. The project will bring the number of apartments Spindletop makes available to 40. The Spindletop Center is not yet accepting applications for the Cottages. Construction is to be complete sometime in 2014.