New housing aims to improve the entire neighborhood - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

New housing aims to improve the entire neighborhood

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WATERLOO (KWWL) -- A new housing complex in the Cedar Valley is aiming to provide a clean, safe property for families in East Waterloo. It also offers them the tools to improve their lives.

The complex is owned and managed by CommonBond Communities, a non-profit housing developer out of Minnesota. The Sisters of Mercy brought the idea to CommonBond several years ago. They were able to fund the project through the Federal Stimulus Program and financing from Wells Fargo/Wachovia, along with other various donations.

The $9.4 million complex includes 40 townhomes -- ranging from two to four bedrooms -- a play area, and, what they call, the Mercy Advantage Center. The combination has already impacted one woman's life in just a few short months.

"It was too good to be true.. they pulled my name out of the lottery. So that was a blessing for me," said new resident Joyce Davis.

Davis had the good fortune to be the first to move into Unity Square Townhomes. It really was a blessing in her time of need.

"I was kind of down when I first got here because I didn't have a job," she explained.

The monthly rent at Unity Square includes more than a brand-new home. In the center of the property, you'll find the Mercy Advantage Center, which is where Shinita Crawley works.

"Basically, everyday I come in and work with the residents. Anything they want to accomplish as far as goals, future, career-wise, I help them with that," said Crawley.

Residents have access to computers and career counseling, and kids can get help with their homework at the Center.

"We have not made it mandatory, but what we have discovered is that, overtime, people want to be involved. It becomes contagious," said the President and CEO of CommonBond Communities, Paul Fate.

"Shinita's been so much help for me. She's learning me how to get on the computer, she gave me directions on how to look for work," Davis said.

In fact, Davis begins her new job on Monday. It's the happy ending that Unity Square wants for every one of its families

"They have accomplished their goals. I am the first to say, yes, they accomplished my goal," said Davis.

There are still a few properties available to rent. You do have to meet income and background requirements. Find more information by clicking here, or call the property manager at 319-236-4290.

Online Reporter Colleen O'Shaughnessy

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