The “13 Houses” Campaign keeps growing in the United States, the country where it all began back in November 2018 with a single house for a single person. Almost two years later, the Campaign is touching the lives of nearly 5000 people worldwide. There are two projects in the country at present, with the expectation of increasing the number to three.
Experts are anticipating an increase of up to 40% in the number of homeless people following the economic consequences of Covid-19 and the measures implemented to stop the spread. From Arkansas to Florida, passing through Georgia, Vincentians are stepping up to the challenge in areas hit hard by the coronavirus and inequality.
Little Rock, Arkansas, is the birthplace of the “13 Houses” Campaign. The first single house changed Vincent’s life. The branch leading the project, Depaul USA, has recently added a second duplex, and three more are on their way. The duplexes will be completed by the summer and will offer 6 housing units to very low-income individuals, including those exiting homelessness, who will pay 30% of their adjusted monthly income in rent. They are in the neighbourhood surrounding the Jericho Way day centre.
Closer to the Atlantic coast, in Macon, Georgia, the Daughters of Charity are in the process of donating a house they are closing to Depaul USA. Kay Gerhardt, a Macon resident and member of the Depaul USA Board of Directors, is also donating a house she owns to Depaul USA. The two houses can accommodate a total of six individuals or two families and represent a further expansion of Depaul USA’s national 13 Houses Campaign. Depaul USA is also working with the Macon Housing Authority to develop 82 affordable apartments and a medical respite on the edge of the city’s downtown. The housing authority will own the apartments, but 16 of the units will be available to Depaul USA participants who are homeless and disabled.
Further south, in Florida, the SSVP is leading the construction of the “Ozanam Village” in New Port Richey, putting the development of affordable housing at the centre of the Vincentian Family’s work in the area. Currently, they are developing 60 units of affordable housing as a 13 Houses project, with a $10.6 million budget. The first 30 units will open in October, the second 30 in January 2021. The work of FHA volunteer ambassador, Michael Raposa, CEO of St. Vincent de Paul CARES, has been crucial to turning this project into reality.
As these projects develop, we will bring you the stories of the people whose lives are transformed thanks to the joint efforts of Vincentians working together at this extremely difficult time.