United Housing News

Southern Region: Support in the Volunteer State
Robertine Payne spent two years living in a nursing home in Memphis, Tennessee. She had to be in bed by a certain time every evening, with the lights out. She couldn't hang decorations on the walls. It didn't feel like home.

But she spent last year in a one-story, three-bedroom house built by United Housing Inc. as part of a pilot program initiated by NeighborWorks Alliance of Tennessee and TennCare. The goal of the supportive housing program is to bring people who are living in institutions — but capable of functioning in a community — back into the community. With a caregiver to help Payne and her housemates navigate, she has more independence than she's had in recent memory. "I have my freedom," she said. She goes shopping when she wants and has more time for fellowship and activities.

NeighborWorks Tenncare Homes StoryLast year was the first year that the pilot homes, built in a variety of communities in Tennessee, were all filled with residents. That's housing for 20 people. But it's 20 people whose lives have been changed.

Starting a project like this is expensive, said Jackie Mayo, CEO of HomeSource east tennessee. The homes must accommodate wheelchair-bound patients and meet other accessibility standards. But once the program gets going, there's a cost savings for individuals and the state — $33,000 per house per year, according to Amy Schaftein, CEO of United Housing.

For the pilot program, the TN regions experimented with different home styles to evaluate what worked best: three- or four-bedroom homes in some communities, microhomes in more expensive Nashville.

Residents are charged 30 percent of their income and share utility costs. They mention being closer to family and being able to sleep and eat when they want as benefits of the new living situation.

"It seems to be working so far," Mayo said. "It is a great opportunity to help people."

The Tennessee alliance was created with the help of NeighborWorks America, which has experience in forming such alliances. When the alliance, which includes Affordable Housing Resources Inc., Chattanooga Neighborhood Enterprise and Eastern Eight CDC, partnered with TennCare, Tennessee's Medicaid program, "we were able to move forward as a cohesive, collaborative group to do something very impactful," Mayo said. "I don't think that would have happened without NeighborWorks giving us the wings to fly."

The state still has to decide how to follow up, housing officials said. But the residents who are part of the pilot program? They're home.

 
 
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http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2016/mar/19/black-real-estate-brokers-drive-home-ownership-cam/
 
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https://www.stlouisfed.org/publications/bridges/winter-2015-2016/how-housing-and-health-care-nonprofits-can-increase-access-to-medical-residential-services
 
 
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Helping Homebuyer Information Page Helping Homebuyers Program Guide "Helping Memphis Homebuyers Program"; Press Release 2012 Annual Report

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