Rochester, N.Y. – Lucy Nopper has schizophrenia and has lived on the street. Now she has her own apartment and her mental illness is under control.
“I feel very safe here. It’s a clean environment,” she said.
Nopper is one of more than 100 people who live at DePaul Key Housing’s West Main Street complex. The affordable apartments have on-site staff for people who need help with mental illnesses. Many of the residents have been homeless or in danger of homelessness.
“The volume of people that need affordable housing is astronomical across the country,” said Gillian Conde, Vice-President at DePaul. “The homeless crisis is real and it’s touching all quadrants of our city.”
DePaul is planning two other large projects in the city. The agency is expanding its University Avenue complex. The $25 million project will house 60 people with mental illnesses. It should be finished next summer.
The other project is on Litchfield Street. An abandoned factory would be turned into 68 apartments with services on site for residents who request help. The cost is $25 million and the project is awaiting funding.
Most of the funding for the housing developments comes from the federal government, which provides operating aid after construction is finished.
DePaul’s housing initiatives join similar projects across the city, including Cooper Union on State St., Voters Block on West Main Street, and Eastman Commons on Dewey Avenue. All of the projects have supportive housing components.
DePaul is also preparing to study the city’s homeless to make recommendations to City Hall on how to better serve the population.
“The people are out there and they’re usually living in unsafe conditions,” said Conde. “This is giving them their own key, their own place to live and really bringing them back into being a part of the community.”
The DePaul housing unit has been a lifeline for Lucy Nopper.
“I’m starting over again and it’s just a new beginning in my life, a new lease on life,” she said.