Special to the WPR
Sometimes all it takes is a single hand up to get a family back on its feet. A Colusa County effort is designed to provide that extra hand up with its new $1.2 million Colusa Independence Project.
Construction of the housing site was funded with State Emergency Housing Assistance Program – Capital Development (EHAP-CD) funding for capital development activities for emergency shelters, transitional housing, and safe havens that provide shelter and supportive services for homeless individuals and families. The City of Colusa also partnered with Federal Community Development Block Grant Program Income (CDBG PI) funding that is a flexible program that provides communities with resources to address a wide range of unique community development needs.
Colusa Treasurer Gar Rourke commented on the final product saying that he was impressed, and that it was money well spent.
The recently completed project will provide temporary housing for adults and children. The five unit, 19 bed housing site will provide homes to families. The small gated site is located at 713 D Street in Colusa.
Colusa County Health and Human Services (DHHS) interim director Elizabeth Kelly explained that although the units will provide shelter to both children and adults, it is primarily for families, but will be available for single women with children,” she said.
The housing program participants will receive support services that will assist them toward self-sufficiency. Participants may stay in the program for up to 24 months. However, the average stay statistically averages 6-8 months. The goal for each participant family will be to graduate from the program with safe, affordable housing and a stable income source. The Colusa County DHHS is partnering with the Colusa One Stop to implement the transitional housing support services. The Colusa One Stop currently implements transitional housing and support services with two units in the City of Colusa, and will transfer those units to the Independence Project explained Kelly.
Late in July, an open house was held at the new complex. Visitors to the site found not only beautifully finished apartments with new furniture, washers and dryers and kitchens stocked with necessities, but a welcoming courtyard area as well.
One visitor commented that this is a place where families can gain a sense of living in a neighborhood, and be a part of a community.
The homes will provide individuals with an opportunity to get back on their feet. While it is not a permanent solution, it is an avenue of support for families to begin anew.
It isn’t a ‘handout’ by any means.
“The adults must be employed, and pay rent, but a portion of the money paid will be deposited into an escrow account banked for future move-in costs for traditional housing once the participants are stable and on their feet,” said Kelly.
The Colusa Independence project has been in the planning stages for a number of years and Kelly said she is so pleased it is finally completed.
“High costs to move into a house or apartment often is more than a family can handle,” she said. “That is why many families end up living in their cars, or are prevented from leaving abusive relationships.”
The units are designed to accommodate a variety of sizes of families. Four of the units have three bedrooms and two bathrooms and are big enough for families with up to six children. One unit is a single one bedroom unit which is ADA accessible appliances and shower. This unit can house one wheel-chair bound adult and one child. It also has a wheelchair lift to access the back patio. All of the units are ADA accessible.
Colusa County Board of Supervisors Chair Mark Marshall and Supervisor Denise Carter toured the site during the July 28 open house. Both Supervisors commented that they could not be more pleased with the end result. ■