Magnolia Heights Provides Critical Housing
On February 7, 2008, Magnolia Heights Apartments achieved final closing with a HUD Section 811 grant of $2,349,000 for construction, and project rental assistance in place. Up to 23 area residents will be moving off the streets or out of restricted residential-care homes into this supervised, independent living center. Sponsored by Ozark Center in Joplin, Missouri, Magnolia Heights will provide a supervised environment for those with chronic mental illness, and will serve as an intermediate step between group homes and independent living, so that the residents can progress to where they live on their own.
The move is possible because of Ozark Center's new addition, Magnolia Heights. The site is at 1820 W. 30th St., and features 23 private apartments equipped with a bedroom, living room, kitchen and bathroom. "Our end goal is to get people to the point where they can live on their own," said Paula Baker, chief executive officer of Ozark Center. "Magnolia Heights builds a bridge between group homes and independent living."
Ozark Center completed its 14-bed Cedar Hill project two years ago, providing mostly independent living with a live-in staff person to oversee daily operations. Baker said Magnolia Heights will offer even more independence and will serve as the final step before residents can live on their own.
The project was made possible through the HUD grant. Rent for Magnolia Heights will be based on residents' monthly income ensuring affordable housing. Residents will start moving in shortly. Placement into the apartments is based on an evaluation by the Ozark Center staff.
Cedar Hill has a waiting list, and Baker said she expects a waiting list for Magnolia Heights, too. The need for area housing for the mentally ill is great, Baker said, and she expressed her desire to immediately start work on another building that would serve residents 18 to 25 years old. "There will be a waiting list for this facility," Baker said of Magnolia Heights. "We'll just get in as many people as we can, then intensify our efforts to build another facility until the need is met."
Gary Duncan, chief executive officer of Freeman Health System, said Wednesday that affordable and safe housing is a critical need for the mentally ill. "This is contemporary and innovative," Duncan said of Ozark Center's approach to independent living. "And this leads the way in the rest of the state."