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HUD housing purchased by out-of-state ministry and turned into transitional housing

5:39 PM, Aug 9, 2013   |    comments
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Combining forces to help people in need on the First Coast: A Tennessee-based church group has purchased local low-income housing and is working with local ministries to transform them into temporary homes. 

They've already cleaned up several of them, including Southside Apartments and Moncrief Village. Residents at Washington Heights say they've seen the visible changes, like security cameras now mounted on buildings. But they say it's the long term effects on people that will make a real difference.

"There's people here that do work and want to own a home and do better for their children," said Marcia Alcala. She's lived at Washington Heights for three years and is working to transition out.

"We have generations of families here," said Helen Watson. "We want the next generation not to be at Washington Heights, and do the same thing over and over again. We want them to get on to the next level in their lives."

Watson has worked at Washington Heights for three years. She's seen the recent changes since Global Ministries stepped in and purchased the property. And so have those who call the place home.

"They pressure washed the buildings, the stairs, painted the doors," said Alcala.

The subtle changes, including 24-hour surveillance cameras, help to put her mind at ease. 

"It feels really good that I can walk to the store and not worry about someone trying to hurt me," said Alcala.

More so, it's knowing that programs such as GED prep and job resources will help to ensure that her daughter won't have to raise her own children within the red brick walls of Washington Heights.

"This is meant to be a stepping stone," said Watson. "It was not meant to be for people to live here forever. Instead of people staying here at Washington Heights, they're going to transition out."

Washington Heights is just one of seven properties taken over on the First Coast. Global Ministries Fellowship, led by CEO Rev. Richard Hamlet, has about 38 apartment complexes in 6 states.

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