City renovating historic St. Rita apartments for Detroit's homeless

An old apartment building about to be demolished will soon be home to Detroit's homeless in a 9 million renovation that will breathe new life into the historic structure and the surrounding neighborhood.

"We're really focused on getting people situated, getting them housed and then focusing on other needs that they have once they're in their homes," said Tasha Gray, Continuum of Care executive director.

The national model is housing first, then agencies can focus on mental health and substance abuse.

"The unsheltered population and the chronically homeless unsheltered population both went down significantly," said Arthur Jemison, Detroit Director of Housing and Revitalization.

With 14,000 people experiencing homelessness in 2016, the need in Detroit is substantial. The new housing at St. Rita Apartments off Woodward near Chicago is part of the effort to address it.

"When we make these significant financial investments in neighborhoods I think that it's a win-win scenario," said Curtis Smith with Central City Integrated Health.

Smith says the ribbon-cutting is planned for September. There will be 26 units, each with 750 square feet. He says the subsidized housing will be funded through low income housing tax credits with the rent based on income. Astaff person will be on site for services with preference given to homeless veterans.

"We're seeing more veterans that are younger now, coming back from the current conflicts in the Middle East," said Patricia Wolschon director of homeless programming at VA Medical Center.

As for the St. Rita Apartments, the level of disrepair is staggering but when all is said and done - it will all be restored from the intricate molding to the tile floors.

"It's a beautiful building and Detroit has a lot of these buildings that should be saved. It's the character of the city," said Joe Early with Early Construction.

A city that plans to create another 300 permanent supportive housing units over the next five years.