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Urban Housing Solutions provides affordable housing and social services for low-income residents of Nashville--primarily those with special needs.
Urban Housing Solutions was incorporated in May 1991 to address Nashville's lack of permanent affordable housing for the homeless by creating Tennessee's first major SRO (Single Room Occupancy) facility, Mercury Courts. SROs are income-based, efficiency apartments specifically designed for the formerly homeless. Today, Mercury Courts offers 164 units of housing, two full-time case managers, a health advocate, free transportation, a computer lab, and an active residents' association.
Since the development of Mercury Courts, we have added 15 new locations to our portfolio, ranging in size from 3 to 96 units each. We offer 600 units of housing, most of which are apartments. Three of our locations house participants of Journeys of Hope, our program for those in recovery from drug and alcohol addiction.
We also have special housing programs for the mentally ill, the chronically homeless, those with HIV/AIDS, and 2005 hurricane evacuees. Approximately one-third of our apartments are for individuals and families who have no special needs other than the fact that they cannot afford market-rate housing.
In 2006 we began to focus on our environmental impact. We did an 11-unit renovation--adding insulation, Energy Star water heaters and refrigerators, low gallon-per-flush toilets, and Energy Star windows. When we finished the renovation, all 11 units were certified as Energy Star. In addition, we've changed over 1,000 light bulbs to compact fluorescents, started water management programs at two of our locations, and switched to a trash pickup service that recycles.
We're especially excited about two programs we've started in the past few months. The first, based on the Housing First concept, is housed at our Fisk Courts location. Housing First is the idea that homeless people first need a place to live. Once they're housed, you surround them with case management to address the problems that made and kept them homeless.The second program, The Academy, is an entrepreneurial-focused housing program for men; most of whom are chronically homeless, formerly incarcerated, or in recovery from addiction. Based on the "each one, teach one" philosophy, The Academy relies not on social workers but rather senior residents to teach newer ones how to work and behave in society. Two graduates of San Francisco's Delancey Street Foundation run The Academy.
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