News From Terre Haute, Indiana

Local & Bistate

October 4, 2013

YOUnity Village recognized as best in Indiana

TERRE HAUTE — YOUnity Village in Terre Haute has been recognized as the best in the state in an annual statewide conference on affordable housing.

Lt. Gov. Sue Ellspermann recognized YOUnity Village and Mental Health America of Vigo County with the urban award — the only one given in that category — for Excellence in Affording Housing and Community Development on Wednesday.

“I was really overwhelmed,” said Myra Wilkey, executive director of MHAVC, noting that she learned on the day of the awards ceremony that the local initiative would be honored. “I do think we’ve had a lot of success with our housing.”

The YOUnity House location at the corner of 15th and Spruce streets has no vacancies in its 10 units, while the adjacent 30-unit YOUnity Village has one vacancy that is to be filled next week.

In all, MHAVC can house 48 people who have previously cycled between the streets, homeless shelters, treatment facilities, jail and emergency rooms. MHAVC opened YOUnity House in 2006, and in 2009 began planning to expand the small supportive housing development with the village complex.

The $5.8 million apartment complex opened in 2012. It was a collaboration between MHAVC, Hamilton Center, Halstead Architects and the Whitsett Group. The project was funded through tax credits, a “Shelter Plus Care” rental subsidy grant from the federal Department of Housing and Urban Development, and funds through the Indiana Housing Community Development Authority.

Supportive housing is a combination of housing and services intended as a cost-effective way to help people live more stable, productive lives. Supportive housing works well for those who face complex challenges — homelessness along with very low incomes and serious persistent issues such as addiction, mental illness, HIV/AIDS and other serious challenges.

Ellspermann, who chairs the Indiana Housing and Community Development Authority, presented the award to Wilkey and to the other award recipients. Also recognized were an office/retail/apartment project in Paoli and three individuals involved in development projects.

“... This year’s award winners,” said Ellspermann, “... are each an example of the power of thoughtful planning, collaboration and dedication to finding solutions to local community and economic development needs throughout our great state.”

Wilkey said that she hopes the MHAVC housing initiative will continue to grow in the community.

“I don’t even think that we’ve touched everyone in need,” she said. “I think we’re just scratching the surface. I thought the village would alleviate the need for housing, but it has made me more aware of the need in the community.”

Reporter Lisa Trigg can be reached at 812-231-4254 or lisa.trigg@tribstar.com. Follow her on Twitter @TribStarLisa.

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