Transitional housing complex for homeless youth set to open in Columbia

Wednesday, November 30, 2011 | 6:00 p.m. CST; updated 6:31 p.m. CST, Wednesday, November 30, 2011

COLUMBIA — Central Missouri Community Action and Rainbow House broke ground at 1004 North 7th St. Wednesday morning for the construction of a transitional housing apartment complex for homeless youth in Columbia.

Rainbow House's transitional living program, Sol House, already has two similar apartments in Columbia. The new building will be set up differently, with room for more residents than the other complexes, said Claire Slama, director of the homeless youth at Rainbow House.

The new apartment will provide housing for 10 homeless youth. More than 190 people are on the Sol House waiting list, said Dianna Moore, director of economic development at Central Missouri Community Action.

"This is just a small portion of helping those youth who are homeless," she said.

The groundbreaking is the last of several Rainbow House events promoting national Homeless Youth Awareness Month.

Central Missouri Community Action is building the facility, and staff from Sol House will be in charge of the day-to-day operations and services for the residents.

"This facility will help the homeless youth get on their feet and become stabilized so that they can eventually move into permanent housing," Moore said.

The energy-efficient, sustainable complex was designed by students in the MU School of Architectural Studies, according to a media release. 

"We worked with graduate students to design the facility to utilize passive solar and sustainable materials," Moore said. "Homeless youth were interviewed to gain ideas for the design of the facility, and discussions were held with the neighborhood association to help the design fit into the neighborhood."

The complex will have five 2-bedroom apartments, and will be the first transitional living home in Columbia to have a handicap accessible unit, Slama said.

Funding for the construction of the facility is being provided the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development's Supportive Housing Program, the City of Columbia Community Housing Development Organization and Neighborhood Stabilization program and the Missouri Housing Development Commission's Housing Trust Fund, the release stated.

Construction is set to begin by the end of the year, and the complex should open in late May or June 2012, Moore said.  

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