CAPE GIRARDEAU, MO (KFVS) - A $1.5 million federal grant will pay for the construction of housing designed specifically for the mentally ill in Cape Girardeau.
The 10-unit complex will be built at 549 North Silver Springs Road.
The apartments will serve people with illnesses like bi-polar disorder, schizophrenia, or extreme depression and allow them to live on their own
That is something local experts say will build their self-esteem and fight against the stereotypes they face.
"A new roof over their head and a clean environment to live in, it will make all the difference in the world," said Dr. Sharon Braun with the Community Counseling Center.
Dr. Braun says it's tough for people with mental illnesses to find affordable and safe housing.
"Many of them survive each month with maybe six or seven hundred dollars," she said.
"Because of their low income, because of their innocence in many ways, they find themselves prey to a lot of unscrupulous practice," added Executive Director John Hudak.
He says the construction of the new complex is vital for people in the area who live with mental illnesses.
"There's a tremendous need in the area. But here, by and large, we probably have our greatest need." he said.
This will be the first complex in Cape Girardeau built specifically for people with mental illnesses, but it's not the first project of its kind for the Community Counseling Center.
The center finished a 14-unit building in Fredericktown last year, and Braun says they have seen tremendous results.
"We immediately filled those up and they have remained full. There have been very few people move out, but we have a waiting list all of the time," she said.
Hudak says he understands the misconceptions associated with mentally ill people and public housing, but says this project will be a benefit to the area.
"This is not something that's historically going to end up being an eye sore or a drain on the community," Hudak said. "Hopefully it will be an enhancement to the area."
Hudak says he's not sure when the project will be completed, but he hopes to break ground within the next year.
The Community Counseling Center still needs to hire contractors for the project.