In an effort to combat homelessness and provide safe, affordable housing for clients in need, the Spindletop Center opened the doors of the Courtyard at Spindletop, a new independent-living apartment complex in Beaumont, on Thursday, Oct. 25. The group invited interested community members to join them for the ribbon-cutting ceremony and grand opening of the new complex that morning.
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. The Courtyard, Spindletop’s second housing endeavor for its clientele, can house up to 14 people. Two of the rooms, one in each wing of the complex, are accessible to disabled persons. Each room is furnished with a bed, a bathroom with shower, personal microwave, mini-refrigerator, wardrobe, end tables and lamps. The building has a community kitchen with a huge pantry and stainless steel appliances, a shared recreation area, a covered patio with a gas grill, two laundry rooms and a multimedia room with cable television, a phone and four computers with Internet access for the occupants.
Spindletop housing administrator Brandy Mouton said the qualifications for residency include enrollment at the Spindletop Center, a minimum income of $698 per month, and a criminal background check, among others. Mouton said the minimum income requirement allows people receiving disability payments to qualify for housing at the facility. The application fee is $20. Once accepted, new residents must pay a $100 security deposit and $450 per month in rent.
Mouton said affordable housing can be difficult to find for some, and persons who have suffered from mental illness face a high risk for homelessness.
“There is a scarce amount of quality affordable housing,” Mouton said. “The Courtyard provides that, leading to a better road to recovery for Spindletop clients. They don’t have to worry about where they are going to sleep at night or worry about being taken advantage of by someone. … I am very excited about this.”
President of the Spindletop Board of Directors Gladdie Fowler addressed those gathered for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.
“I am excited and grateful to be here,” Fowler said. “Sally (Broussard, chief authority officer for Spindletop Center) took me on a tour and it was just awesome. … How can it get any better? I am just excited to be part of the process.”
Fowler said The Studios, Spindletop Center’s first affordable, independent-living facility, opened in 2010 and had 85 applicants. The facility currently houses 12 residents. Of those residents, Fowler said 77 percent were homeless, 24 percent have already secured permanent employment, 10 percent have gone to school at Lamar Institute of Technology, 24 percent have moved to other housing and 100 percent are currently compliant with mental health services at the Spindletop Center.
“This is really happening,” said Dixie McCleod, chair of the Spindletop Center Mental Health Planning and Advisory Committee and vocational rehabilitation counselor for the Department of Assistive and Rehabilitative Services. “This is a dream come true. Affordable, safe housing is but the first step in becoming part of the American mainstream. … This is not a handout. This is a hand up.”
McCleod said the new facility would help alleviate worries tenants might have had when facing inadequate housing and unstable situations. When looking for work, it is impossible to get a job without an address, she said. “The magic word is employment.”
“I must admit that I was ignorant to the fact of what is going on here,” City Councilwoman Gethrel Williams-Wright told the crowd. “I will see to it that citizens are aware. … It is truly beautiful. Thank you for what you do and for what we should all be doing.”
After leaders addressed those gathered, everyone was escorted outside for the traditional ribbon-cutting. Greater Beaumont Chamber of Commerce membership director Dale Champagne cut the ceremonial ribbon, and The Courtyard at Spindletop opened its doors to those qualifying individuals who found so may doors closed to them in the past.
The Meadows Foundation and B.A. & E.W. Steinahagen Benevolent Trust through the Trust Department of Capital One Bank provided support for the project along with donors and patrons of Spindletop’s Euforialive fundraiser including the Medical Center of Southeast Texas, KBMT 12 News, KLVI, Baptist Hospital Behavioral Health, Carrier Corp., Chase Bank, Gulf Cost Electric Co., Holiday Inn Beaumont Plaza, Howell Furniture Galleries, LaBiche Architectural Group, Munro’s, Regina Rogers, Southern Avionics and Spindletop Center IDD Services Dept.