City to help Amethyst Place on Troost

amethyst placeA city council committee on Wednesday advanced a measure to allow tax increment financing funds to help a transitional housing shelter on Troost.

The full council is expected to approve the change today, which allows the TIF funds to be used for Amethyst Place, five buildings in the area of 2732 Troost.

The housing for women in substance abuse recovery and their children has about 100 people in 36 units, Amethyst Director Kimberley Davis said in an interview.

Under TIF rules the money for Midtown loans and grants cannot be used for multifamily operations of more than 12 units. The city council Planning, Zoning and Economic Development Committee voted Wednesday to waive that for Amethyst Place.

Money would go to fund improvements by the company that owns the property. The firm would match that money by breaks to renters or in other ways, city officials said.

Davis said Amethyst will be approaching the city and county about other sources of funding as well.

The problem is that federal Housing and Urban Development funds pay most of the rents for their clients, she said, which amounts to half of the Amethyst budget.

But HUD has shifted to a housing first model, which no longer allows tight rules like those imposed at Amethyst, Davis said.

“HUD says you can have a beer in your apartment and we say hell, no, you can’t have a beer,” she said.

They also have curfews, visitor restrictions and urine tests that are no longer favored by HUD.

“We work with women with life-long addictions and they need those hard-and-fast rules at first,” Davis said. “They’ll be the first to tell you they want the rules.”

Their system has worked for 14 years with good results, she said.

Among the original founders was Sister Berta Sailer, founder of Operation Breakthrough day care for poor children, also on Troost. Among others who helped launch Amethyst were law enforcement leaders.

Rachel Whipple, former deputy police chief, is on the Amethyst board.

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