AKRON, Ohio — It’s quite literally a new lease on life for folks in one Akron community.
In a few short hours—crews will break ground on a housing facility that’s aimed at helping those struggling with mental illness and homelessness.
It’s called the Naomi Project, and it's being built to help those get back on their feet and find long-term stability.
It comes at a time when mental health cases have surged across the U.S. and right here in the greater Cleveland area.
“We just find a way to help people as best we can," said Michael Gaffney, Director of Marketing and Development for Community Support Services.
At first glance, the area may look like a wide-open, empty lot to some.
But for many who will come by here in the future-- it means promise, peace, and safety.
“People have a second chance to improve their life," said Gaffney.
With a little love and hard work—the vacant space along Allyn Street in Akron will transform into the Naomi Project.
Once completed it will off eight units of permanent supportive housing.
The one bedroom apartments are part of Community Support Services tent to housing program that helps Akron’s homeless population find stability and a place to call their own.
“We’re just trying to be there as a voice and way to help people do the things that they need to do," said Gaffney.
The housing project became a reality after several community agencies including CSS, the Summit County Land Bank, Joanna House II, The city of Akron, and Tober House worked as one.
LaSalle Harris, now an employee of CSS and once homeless herself, started working on the concept a decade ago.
She created the non-profit Joanna House II which offers several community services --including a greenhouse where fresh fruits and vegetables are grown on the same property.
Her story of success has inspired many.
“There’s a lot of hopelessness in homeless and when they see this kind of thing going on and taking interest—they think maybe I can be that way as well," said Gaffney.
A tax credit program through the state of Ohio helped fund the project.
Gaffney says it’s worth every penny, and the sky is the limit for those who want to make a change in their lives.
“They can get in here and make it a home for themselves and improve everything else they need to improve in their life.”
Crews will break ground on Naomi Project at 3 p.m.
The goal is to have construction completed and residents living there before winter.