SPRINGFIELD, Mo. -- The Kitchen is celebrating the completion of it's newest affordable housing complex here in Springfield. One of its new residents says this is the first time he's had a home in more than 25 years.
McClernon Villas is made up of 36 two bedroom units. It's designed for income qualifying seniors, people with disabilities, and formerly homeless veterans. They're brand new buildings, filled with some new furshings, and for some, it's a brand new way of life.
"I've been a homeless man since about 1990, and I have survived being homeless by sleeping in parks, sleeping in abandoned houses, sleeping in the tree line and sleeping in my car," says Robert Jackson.
Jackson says people at The Kitchen and the VA helped him get here; he now calls McClernon Villas home. "Veteran, 2nd marine air wing. It was a helicopter squadron. It happens to veterans as well as other people who are out there due to whatever circumstances happen. Homelessness is not just caused by drugs and alcohol; you can have an illness or your job play out," Jackson says.
It's The Kitchen's fourth affordable housing development in Springfield over the last five years, bringing their total to 222 housing units. "In a community as great as Springfield when we have individuals who are elderly, disabled or veterans who are struggling to find housing that they can afford; we think that is something that is unacceptable," says Randy McCoy, The Kitchen Inc, director of housing programs.
Tax credits from the Missouri Housing Development Commission helped fund the $5 million project. Rent for residents starts at $380 a month.
"We look at affordable housing, safe decent, affordable housing for individuals, as our biggest prevention effort," says McCoy.
"Oh, we love it, we love it. It's so peaceful," says Malu Martin.
For some, it's hard to believe it's even real. "Today, I tell people, I am living the dream, that normalcy. I have a roof, I have security. Wow," Jackson says.
All the units at McClernon Villas are already full, but The Kitchen's housing director told folks at the ribbon cutting Thursday to be thinking of what they could do next.