Apartments for veterans, homeless open in Cass Corridor
Detroit — Donald Anderson never expected he’d find a place to call home.
After spending years in shelters, and staying with friends and family and on the streets, the Army veteran tried to make do as best as he could.
But a few weeks ago, he became one of a couple of dozen new tenants at the Charlotte Apartments, a newly redeveloped housing complex in the Cass Corridor for veterans, the homeless and individuals with mental health challenges.
“It was extremely hard and difficult. I never thought I’d see this day,” said Anderson, a 61-year-old artist who sells paintings in Greektown. “It was very surreal how this happened.”
An official grand opening for the 27-unit, one-bedroom apartments at Charlotte near Second Street was held Tuesday with tenants, project developers and Mayor Mike Duggan.
The $6.1 million project was a partnership between building owners Detroit Central City Community Mental Health, developer Joseph Early and consultants from Union Capital Development. The effort was funded with a combination of federal dollars, low-income state housing tax credits, brownfield tax credits and a $300,000 contribution from the Home Depot Foundation, officials said.
The formerly blighted Charlotte Apartments were once seized under Duggan’s Abandoned Property Project, an effort he instituted in his former role as Wayne County prosecutor.
On Tuesday, the mayor reflected on his long history with the building that was once a haven for drug dealing and crime. Now, in the shadow of the new Detroit Red Wings arena and other business development, Duggan said he’s pleased to have the affordable housing for veterans in the same area and is hopeful for the future.
“We are building a Detroit that includes everybody,” Duggan said before touring the building. “This is such a great example.”
Detroit Central City development partner Joseph Early purchased the property in 2003. Plans to move forward on redevelopment of the then vacant apartments were announced in 2013.
Curtis Smith, housing development director for Detroit Central City, said the complex is home to nine veterans and 18 non-veterans, both men and women.
Each unit is outfitted with new appliances and granite counter tops and each tenant was provided with a bed and dinette set. Rent for the subsidized units is based on income and ranges from about $50 per month to around $300.
The four-story building offers its tenants an on-site community room, laundry services, a computer lab, library and meeting rooms. Additionally, the project also funds on-site management and support services at least twice per week, officials said.
Smith said the project is the latest for the Detroit nonprofit that provides behavioral and physical health care and substance abuse services as well as rental assistance and housing programs at facilities in Detroit.
Air Force veteran Charles Montague came to the apartments after losing his belongings when a separate nearby facility he was staying in sustained water damage. Prior to that, he’d been homeless for six years.
“It was rough,” he said. “Scraping up to get something to eat, to find somewhere to sleep that was secure and nobody would rob you, knock you out or fight you all the time. It was crazy.”
Montague, 56, who has mental health issues and suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, with the help of project partners, was provided fully furnished living quarters.
“This is gorgeous. It was unbelievable,” he said. “This is more of a home than just an apartment to me.”