Affordable housing helps homeless families get back on their feet

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PHOENIX -- A Phoenix apartment complex in foreclosure just last year is now a place where local families can get back on their feet. 

The North 17 Apartment Complex will ultimately be home to 72 families. That is 72 families who were previously living in shelters or on the streets but now have a chance to get their lives back on track.

“My wife and I through a financial hardship became homeless with the kids,” said Richard Crenshaw, who lost his home last October after he and his wife lost their jobs.
 
“Yeah it was scary, very scary, we didn't know what to do or where to turn we didn't have any structure in our lives at all.," Crenshaw added.
 
After a couple months of bouncing around the Crenshaws got help from Central Arizona Shelter Services, or CASS, and landed in the Vista Colina Family Shelter. 
 
“Through job readiness and services available through CASS we were both able to find jobs,” said Crenshaw.
 
And now North 17, Arizona Housing Inc’s fourth permanent affordable housing complex, is home to the Crenshaws.
 
“We've been here a couple months, paid rent early each month and God willing will be here through our 12 month lease,” said Crenshaw.
 
It’s a situation that already has the Crenshaw’s two children feeling more secure.
 
“I was really nervous before and didn't know if we'd be on the streets or stay somewhere safe,” said 12-year-old Araina Crenshaw.
 
That is the mission of North 17, to serve low income families working to permanently end their struggles with homelessness.
 
“We have the equivalent of a case manager on site 10 hours a day seven days a week,” said Mark Holleran, CEO of CASS and Arizona Housing Inc. 
 
Of course you must qualify to live at North 17. 
 
“If you have a full time job and earn less than 12 dollars an hour you qualify,” Holleran explained.
 
The rent charged is just 30 percent of your gross income, so people are both safe and able to save.
 
“This keeps it very affordable for individuals and keeps them from falling back into CASS,” said Holleran.
 
Currently, families homeless for the first time make up about 50 percent of the Valley' s homeless population.
 
While North 17 will help 72 families get back on their feet, Holleran says he would like to see more of these joint public-private sector ventures take shape.