Subsidized apartments will house Memphians who are experiencing homelessness and mental illness

A severely blighted South Memphis apartment building at 1571 Kansas Street will be renovated over the next six months into permanent housing for adults who have experienced homelessness, mental illness, and/or substance abuse, as well as youth who are transitioning out of Tennessee's foster care system.

On April 13, the Tennessee Housing Development Agency presented nonprofit developer Case Management, Inc., with a $225,000 grant to renovate the building, which has sat dormant for many years. 

“As you look around this area, you see that there’s not a lot of construction or new things going on in this area of South Memphis,” said Case Management CEO Florence Hervery.

“So Case Management is proud to be a part of trying to revitalize this area as well as open up some housing opportunities for many of the people that we serve who are homeless or at risk of being homeless and certainly that mentally ill population that we live for.”

Case Management, which is funded by a grant from the State of Tennessee Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services, offers outpatient and wraparound services including drug and alcohol treatment programs for the homeless and mentally ill.

The new apartments in South Memphis will be subsidized housing for eight of their clients for as long as they need it. The organization hopes that the offering encourages clients to maintain their self-worth, dignity and independence.

“For those of us who work with this population, we understand that housing is one of the greatest barriers to their stability,” said Hervery. The people living in the new apartments will pay 30 percent of their overall income for rent and utilities.

Case Management, which operates several properties around Memphis, competed against other nonprofits across the state to earn the grant, which is funded from the Tennessee Housing Trust Fund.

“Imagine if you are a kid walking past this development every day. How are you going to feel about the neighborhood?” said Paul Young, City of Memphis director of the Division of Housing and Community Development. “It doesn’t instill pride when you see blight in our community.”

The grant money will cover the bulk of the renovation costs, which will include completely gutting the approximately 50-year-old building and then installing a new roof, central A/C and heat, plumbing and electrical systems as well as landscaping the property and putting in a gated entry.

The new floor plans will include eight one-bedroom, one-bathroom units.

“We’re hoping to start moving clients in by Christmas,” said Hervery.

Work will begin immediately, and the general contractor for the project is Healthcare Construction.

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Read more articles by Michael Waddell.

Michael Waddell is a native Memphian who returned to Memphis several years ago after working for nearly a decade in San Diego and St. Petersburg, Fla., as a writer, editor and graphic designer. His work over the past few years has been featured in The Memphis Daily News, Memphis Bioworks Magazine, Memphis Crossroads, the New York Daily News and the New York Post. Contact Michael.