CLINTON — A new state program was the impetus for a three-building, $1.49 million New Directions housing project at 2733 S. 19th St.

The facility, which New Directions Development Director Paul Willging said will have its first occupants in March, is one of the first in Iowa to take advantage of a program, approved by the Legislature earlier this year, that expands the low-income housing tax credit program to specifically address the needs of families coming out of residential substance abuse treatment.

The Clinton project will include 10 units in the three buildings, while a similar project opening near Jan. 1 in Cedar Rapids contains 24 units.

Willging said the Clinton project will have six two-bedroom units, four three-bedroom units and a community center. One of the buildings will be a four-unit structure resembling townhomes, the other will be five units and the community center will have one single-floor, handicap accessible residential unit attached.

Unlike Hightower Place, another New Directions housing option, residents of the new development are in the post-treatment phase. They still will have all of the New Directions services available and can earn additional housing subsidies through participation. However, Willging said, residents will be more or less totally independent.

“Finding safe, substance free housing in decent neighborhoods is out of most of their reach,” Willging said of women with children who complete residential substance abuse treatments at Hightower Place and elsewhere. After living for four to six months in a very structured environment, he said, it can take people 18 to 24 months to earn enough money to live independently in substance-free neighborhoods.

The new housing project is owned by a partnership, Willging explained, with the formal owner being N.D. Housing, a corporation formed to comply with state tax credit guidelines. That company will contract with New Directions to manage and provide support services.

The housing will be open to people who have completed residential substance abuse treatment programs in Clinton and elsewhere. Willging said New Directions believes it will be able to keep the 10 units full with its own referrals, but officials will not be limiting tenants as such.

Willging said about $750,000 of the $1.49 million project is coming from the low income housing tax credits with anther $500,000 from state home loan money. The balance is from New Directions cash subsidies and other local contributions.

The general contractor is Tricon Construction of Dubuque, which also is working on the Clinton Marina and completed King House renovations for New Directions in Clinton a few years ago.

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