St. Therese buys foreclosed house to provide free recovery services

Nine women recovering from drug abuse and sex trafficking are on their way to better lives in a house newly-owned by the Community of St. Therese of Lisieux

For the past two years, St. Therese has been operating a halfway house for women in need, but it took a lot of community players to create that support network. 

A unique funding partnership ensures that St. Therese will be able to continue its work of housing five women for two years while they get back on their feet. 

So far, two women have moved out of the Midtown house and are attending Southwest Community College. Five women have graduated from intensive out-patient therapy. Three women have gone through the Hope Works Program, and two women went on to full-time jobs. Two were connected with more supervised community resources.  

United Housing, Inc. received the foreclosed house as part of the national Community Stabilization Trust program, which works with banks and nonprofits to return distressed properties for use as affordable housing. 

“When organizations like St. Therese have a need, those properties could be fixed up and rented for a dollar a year for two years with an option to purchase, and meanwhile address a critical social challenge,” Amy Schaftlein, Director of Development and Communications for UHI.

St. Therese rented the house on a two year lease with the intention of buying it. 

“We put money into front end to rehab the house. This last two years we have been working to get things in order,” said Sandra Ferrell, Lisieux Community President.

When the lease was up in August, St. Therese was several thousand short of being able to purchase the Midtown home. The group benefited from a $125,000 grant from Presbyterian Women (PCUSA), but the two-part grant wouldn’t be fully delivered until October.

To make up the difference, St. Therese approached Landmark Community Bank. Through the state housing finance agency’s Community Investment Tax Credit Program, the bank provided a $62,500 loan on zero percent interest. 
In August, Ferrell was able to purchase the house and provide much-needed heating and air renovations.

According to Landmark senior vice president Bryan Jones, the bank will continue to work with non-profits throughout the year.

Read more articles by Madeline Faber.

Madeline Faber is an editor and award-winning reporter. Her experience as a development reporter complements High Ground's mission to write about what's next for Memphis.