Homeless and disabled veterans in Durham have a new place to live with the opening of a new apartment building in northern Durham.
The Denson Apartments for Veterans, at 1598 Sedgefield St., at the corner of Sedgefield and Guess Road, features 11 one-bedroom apartments. Phase two of the project includes another 12 units for homeless veterans to be completed next year on the lot next door.
“I’m glad we’re getting 11 people off the street,” said Debra King, CEO of the Raleigh-based nonprofit CASA, or Community Alternatives for Supportive Abodes,. “I hope it ends for them the cycle of homelessness.”
The Denson Apartments will house 10 men and one woman.
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According to CASA, the most recent Point-in-Time count, an annual nationwide census of the homeless, found at least 255 homeless veterans in the Triangle area.
With the completion of the first phase of the Denson Apartments, CASA will be providing housing for 65 veterans. That number will grow to 87 with the completion of the second phase. CASA has already identified 75 percent of the funding for phase two.
“This is giving me hope,” said Stanley, a soon-to-be tenant who did not want to give his last name. “This is making me believe that things are going to start going in the right direction. I’m so grateful.”
Phase one includes a small community meeting room, including a kitchen, which is why it has 11 units and not 12.
Each unit is 650 square feet. Two are fully wheelchair accessible, with roll-in showers and roll-up sinks.
CASA maintains its sites. Vinyl floors and plastic walls around the showers are designed to help with maintenance.
“It looks good over time because people just stay and stay with us,” said Missy Hatley, CASA director of resource development.
The Green Chair Project, another Raleigh-based charity, will help Denson tenants with furnishings.
‘A special group’
The project is named for Alexander B. Denson of Durham, a retired federal judge and Navy veteran. Denson grew weary of seeing veterans trapped in a cycle of poverty in his courtroom.
“As a veteran,” Denson said, “I feel that I am in a special group of people who have served their country, often at great sacrifice to themselves and their families. We enjoy the freedoms of our democracy today because of the many people who have made this sacrifice.
“They were there for us when we needed them. We need to be here for them when they need us.”
CASA owns and maintains properties in Wake, Durham and Orange counties. It manages 330 affordable apartments across 55 properties.
CASA specializes in building sites with 10 to 12 units along main corridors and on bus lines.
“Our folks don’t have vehicles,” King said.
Most CASA tenants earn less than $800 a month and can only pay about $250 per month in rent. CASA charges tenants just 30 percent of their income in rent, allowing them to pay for other basic necessities, save for the future and prepare for a more independent life.
CASA’s goal is that once its tenants have been housed they never face homelessness again.
Most of CASA’s properties are small infill developments in established neighborhoods. It would be cheaper to build out in the country, King said, but CASA wants to make sure its tenants have access to city services and amenities.