A low-income housing project for at-risk women is breaking ground in Reno today, providing another much-needed option at a time when housing affordability woes continue to hit the area’s vulnerable populations especially hard.
The Empowerment Center, a Reno-based nonprofit that assists women recovering from substance abuse, is eyeing a fall 2022 opening for its Marvel Way Project, which is located near Reno-Tahoe International Airport. Once finished, the three-story residence will feature 42 units total — 36 one-bedroom, one-bath units and six two-bedroom, one-bath units.
Roxanne DeCarlo, executive director of The Empowerment Center, described the project as the first of its kind in the community and also a big challenge, given the impact of COVID-19.
“It’s truly a proud moment for our team that we were able to orchestrate most of this project in the midst of the pandemic,” DeCarlo said. “One of the issues the pandemic has underscored is the need for affordable housing, and I’m proud that we moved forward to get this project up and running because the need today is far greater than it ever has been.”
The Empowerment Center is partnering with other treatment and health care providers in the area for the endeavor, which is modeled after recovery-based housing projects that offer sober living accommodations as well as support services to residents. To qualify, applicants must make 30% to 50% of the area median income and desire to live in a substance-free community, DeCarlo said. Women graduating from local treatment programs will have first priority, she added.
“There will be an application process available when we get a little closer to completion,” DeCarlo said. “They can stay as long as they want as this is permanent supportive housing.”
The three-acre Marvel Way Project will not affect The Empowerment Center’s flagship operation on South Virginia St., which will remain open, according to DeCarlo. Instead, it will expand on the availability of safe, low-income housing for at-risk women, especially at a time when Reno-Sparks continues to see skyrocketing housing costs. The combined median home price for both cities has topped the half-million-dollar mark in recent months.
DeCarlo thanked her organization’s various community partners and donors for making the Marvel Way Project possible and providing vulnerable women an additional option for recovery and taking the next step to help them support themselves and lead successful, productive lives.
“The generosity of the community has shown just how much they believe in our mission and how intense the need is in this area,” DeCarlo said. “This complex adds to the number of affordable living units that are sorely needed, which means that those who are serious about pursuing recovery have less obstacles to face in escaping toxic living situations.”
Jason Hidalgo covers business and technology for the Reno Gazette Journal, and also reviews the latest video games. Follow him on Twitter @jasonhidalgo. Like this content? Support local journalism with an RGJ digital subscription.
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