Breaking new ground: HPI, Vera French Housing Corporation partnering on special needs housing development in Davenport

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Construction of Vera French Manor, a 10-unit special needs housing development for persons with mental illness in Davenport, Iowa, will officially begin during a 10 a.m. ground-breaking ceremony at 215 E. 37th St. on Wednesday, July 17.
Vera French Housing Corporation (VFHC) and Heartland Properties, Inc., the housing subsidiary of Alliant Energy Resources, have joined together to address the housing needs of persons with mental illness in Scott County. Representatives from Heartland Properties, VFHC, the city of Davenport, Russell Construction and a host of other state and local agencies will be in attendance at the ceremony. The event is open to the public.
Vera French Manor will be a single-story, 7,775 square-foot building featuring nine one-bedroom apartments and one three-bedroom unit. Other amenities will include a laundry facility, community room with kitchen area and a resident learning center with computers and Internet access. Community support and case management services will also be available for residents as needed.
The $1.3 million development is being made possible through a $775,000 investment by Heartland Properties. The Iowa Department of Economic Development, Iowa Finance Authority, city of Davenport, Scott County Regional Authority and VFHC are providing additional financial support.
"We're pleased to be continuing our commitment to special-needs populations in Iowa," says Russ Kaney, director of housing investments for Heartland Properties. "For persons with long-term mental illness, the ability to access and maintain community housing is a formidable task due to a severe shortage of decent affordable options. Vera French Manor will significantly increase the availability of independent-living opportunities for them in the Davenport area."
Dean Drexel, executive director of VFHC, agrees that Vera French Manor is a solution-based development. "Living in substandard or inappropriate housing can add to mental health problems and make it more difficult for people to maintain community living. This partnership initiative will go a long way in making sure that these persons have a decent affordable place to live and most important a place they can call home."
Since its inception in 1994, VFHC has successfully developed 95 affordable apartment homes for people challenged by mental illness in Scott County. Vera French Manor will bring them 10 units closer to their goal of 120.
"Having affordable, safe housing is an important treatment issue for persons with mental illness," adds Drexel. "We embrace a vision where they can succeed in a community living situation by linking affordable housing with flexible support services. Vera French Manor will make our vision a reality."
Heartland Properties is committed to working in partnership with communities to create quality, affordable housing. Vera French Manor is Heartland Properties' seventeenth housing investment in the state of Iowa, and one of more than 125 developments it has participated in throughout the Midwest. When complete, Vera French Manor will be Heartland Properties' third special needs facility in Iowa -- the first dedicated to serving people with mental illness.
"Each development we invest in addresses important community needs and represents a unique and successful partnership," says Kaney. "The emerging demand for special-needs housing is undeniable and we value the opportunity to partner with quality organizations like Vera French and the city of Davenport. We hope to develop similar facilities across the state of Iowa."
Vera French Manor is expected to be ready for occupancy in spring 2003. For more information about the property, including referral and eligibility requirements, contact Beth Sindt at (563) 445-7977. Construction updates can be found online at
VFHC, a private, non-profit organization, was created by Vera French Community Mental Health Center to provide rent-assisted housing for persons with long-term mental illness. It works collaboratively with the Mental Health Center and numerous community agencies and service providers to develop supportive housing. By obtaining financing and grant funding through multiple public and private sources, it seeks to create affordable housing opportunities through acquisitions, rehabilitation, new construction, master leasing and rental subsidy programs in Scott County.

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