Development helps homeless vets, mentally ill

Last updated: March 24. 2014 9:54PM - 1243 Views
By William Laney wlaney@civitasmedia.com

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LIMA — Veterans and others who are homeless because of physical, mental or substance abuse issues should have a new place to live next year in downtown Lima.

Lima City Council members approved an ordinance Monday granting Union Square LLC a 50 percent Community Reinvestment Act tax abatement for 15 years on a $3.35 million, 24-unit adult apartment complex at 200 E. Elm St. The complex will be for veterans and other individuals who are homeless or at risk of being homeless due to persistent physical disabilities, mental illnesses and substance addiction issues.

Mayor David Berger welcomed the end of a 30-month long process by Coleman Professional Services, a not-for-profit provider of behavioral health and rehabilitation programs, and the Testa Companies, a Cuyahoga Falls real estate developer, to help in addressing the homeless issue in the city.

“We have previously seen them develop units on a scattered site basis, and we know that they continue to have clients that need both mental health services they are providing and housing,” Berger said. “It is good news that they are finally bringing it to fruition, and we are anxious for them to take a parcel that has been long abandoned and once a gas station site and transform it into a very nice housing development.”

Coleman Professional Services, which is the majority partner in Union Square LLC, along with Testa Enterprises created the limited liability corporation to take advantage of the Ohio Housing Finance Agency Low Income Housing Tax Credit program. The state program only provides tax credits to a for-profit entity.

Testa Co. Vice President of Development Arthur Krauer said the firm’s executives hope to have the project through its design review, the building permits approved as well as the financing for the project in place to begin construction of the complex by the middle of April.

“The challenge in communities like Lima throughout Ohio is that the resources to really target the homeless don’t find their way to smaller communities because they tend to find their way to Akron, Columbus and Cleveland, but the populations are still there in smaller cities and need to be served,” Krauer said. “The fact that you have Coleman Professional Services and a community that has been remarkably supportive and remarkably sophisticated in their understanding of how important this is is just fantastic.”

Krauer said he would like to see the building completed in April or May 2015 so these homeless people and those at risk to homelessness and in need of mental health and addiction services can be served by Coleman Professional Services.

The new complex would result in the hiring of at least four part-time workers as desk attendants and managers.

The Union Square housing complex is projected to save $31,753 each year, or $476,300 total, during the 15 years of the tax abatement, according to an estimate prepared by Allen County Auditor Rhonda Eddy-Steinecker. Due to the tax abatement, Lima City Schools stands to lose a total of $362,777 in tax revenue, the city of Lima $34,262, the Allen County Board of Development Disabilities $29,749, and Allen County $21,084 over the next 15 years.

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