GREENVILLE, SC (WSPA) — A new development may be the solution for adults experiencing chronic homelessness with mental or physical disabilities in Greenville County.
United Housing Connections (UHC) is scheduled to break ground November 1 on 36 units of permanent supportive housing for those experiencing homelessness with a severe disability, according to CEO Lorain Crowl.
Church Street at Poe Mill will be located at 50 Church Street.
“Poe Mill is an area where there’s a lot of folks who are economically challenged in that area. We also have a lot of friends who are experiencing homelessness, living in that area,” Crowl said. “So, we were donated the land there that the project will be built on, and so we thought that’s the perfect spot to be able to serve folks in that community,” she said.
Leaders said Greenville County has homeless encampments and areas where people are struggling to make ends meet.
“We have seen an uptick in homeless in large regard due to the unaffordability of housing,” Crowl explained. “We’re seeing more families with children now living in their cars and that kind of thing because they’re literally being priced out of a home.”
“What you’ll see is what you normally see when you deal with people that are housing challenged,” said Chris Rubio, Outreach Lead Peer Support Specialist for United Housing Connections. “It could be anywhere from substance use, mental health challenges. It could be relationship breakdowns, folks who are really trying to survive from day to day,”
Advocates said homelessness doesn’t have a certain look.
“The face of homelessness isn’t just one face. You have folks who are living in hotels that can’t rent or buy because of past evictions or barriers,” Rubio said. “You have folks who are addicted to substances. You have folks who are off their mental health medication and on substances. You have folks who just had a relationship breakdown and they’re without a home for the first time ever in their lives.”
It’s a real struggle that Rubio sees everyday in his position with UHC. He was also once homeless at one point and time.
“I spent many years homeless in California bouncing around, couch surfing, you know, addicted. And so I come with a unique experience when I connect with folks, that not only that I see the need, but I know what that need feels like,” Rubio said. “I know what it feels like to be told you can’t be here, you got to keep going.”
The United Housing Connections hopes the residential facility can aid in this problem.
“They’re all studio units, so they’re not large,” Crowl said. “Each room while it has a small sort of kitchen area, bathroom and then a living area with a bedroom area.”
Crowl said the units will not have full kitchens, instead there will be large kitchens on each floor for community cooking.
“Downstairs there will be community room as well as a place for coffee, light breakfast, light food sort of a cafeteria to sort of sit at the bottom, and then support services as well will be on the bottom floor. So, that will look like Greenville Mental Health or Behavioral Health or even dental,” Crowl said.
Crowl said they will work with community partners and their outreach team to identify those who are most in need of this support.
“Many are connected to Greenville Mental Health, many are connected to behavioral health services, many are veterans–disabled veterans– just a various population of folks who are suffering with some sort of disability will be living on this project,” Crowl said.
The total cost of the project is $9.9 million.
UHC said they raised money from various sources including $1.7 million from private donors, foundations, and churches.
In addition, funding was provided through grants and funding from the Small Rental Development Program established in 2018 by SC Housing, according to UHC.
Crowl said rent will be subsidized and that they will never ask people to pay more than 30 percent of their income.
“That’s the way we sort of define affordable, but many of these folks will also be on disability, and so we will have to subsidize the rent in order to make sure that the project is operational,” Crowl said.
“We want to first start with those the most vulnerable of course, those who are living outside with no connection to anything, that are disabled and really at the most risk,” Crowl said.
The official groundbreaking for Church Street Place at Poe Mill at 50 Church Street will be on Tuesday, November 1 from 11 a.m. to noon.