Casperites in need of public housing will soon have more options.
The Casper Housing Authority broke ground on the Raven Crest Apartment Complex this week, according to the housing authority’s executive director Kim Summerall-Wright.
The $18 million project, located at 4701 Tranquility Way, will include a playground, a barbecue area, a community garden and 100 apartment units. However, only half of those units will be subsidized by the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development, said the director. The other half will pay full rent.
Landlords aren’t always motivated to keep public housing units in decent condition, Summerall-Wright explained, but if half of the property is for standard tenants, then they might be more inclined to ensure the complex is well-maintained.
“It’s really good for the neighborhoods and for the folks that need the subsidies,” she said.
The project is completely funded through the Low-Income Housing Tax Credit program—the federal government’s primary program for urging the investment of private equity in the development of affordable rental housing for low-income households. It’s the largest LIHTC-funded project in the state, she said.
The 50 subsidized units are also part of the Rental Assistance Demonstration program, which was approved by Congress five years ago to house families with project-based vouchers.
“We’re proud to be part of this,” she said, adding that this is the first project in Wyoming to be part of the demonstration program.
Although the housing authority recently opened CentrePointe Apartments, a downtown low-income housing complex with 50 units, Summerall-Wright said Casper has a “huge” problem with homelessness and still needs more spaces.
Smaller towns throughout the state tend to send struggling residents to Casper to receive public assistance services, she explained.
Some citizens can be quick to pass judgment on those who need public housing assistance, but Summerall-Wright said homelessness can happen to those from all walks of life. Whether it’s domestic violence situation, a job loss or a medical emergency, the director said it’s not that difficult to end up on the streets.
“It only takes a couple of [missed] paychecks and you are in big trouble,” she said.
The longer an individual is homeless, the more difficult it becomes to get them off the streets, she said, explaining that people begin to physically and mentally deteriorate after about 90 days without a place to live. However, if homeless citizens are quickly placed in public housing units, then they have a significantly higher chance of getting back on their feet.
The director said she expects the Raven Crest project will be finished in about year.
This isn’t the only project the housing authority has underway.
The organization purchased the former Roosevelt High School in north Casper for $430,000 last spring, with the intention of turning the 22,500 square foot property into a one-stop shop for veterans’ services.
“Wyoming has so many veterans, we are clearly a very patriotic state,” Summerall-Wright previously stated. “I feel that it’s important when our veterans come home, that they have access to the services that they have earned.”