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Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

Macon Community News

The Macon Newsroom

New Macon apartments to offer affordability and medical respite for the unhoused

Grant Blankenship/GPB
Sister Theresa Sullivan, right, speaks during a ceremony May 20, 2024, marking the near-completion of Macon’s Central City Apartments.

A new apartment complex in Macon will provide affordable housing for downtown service workers and a safe place for the homeless to recover from medical care.

Macon has experienced a boom in high-end residential growth downtown in recent years as well as growth in restaurants and cafes to serve new residents. But the average downtown rent of $1,600 is out of reach for most of the workers in the new businesses.

At $600 a month, rent in 66 of the units in the Central City Apartments will be about 38% of market rate rents elsewhere in downtown Macon.

Another 16 units will be set aside as supportive housing for unhoused clients of the Daybreak Day Resource Center next door which, along with the Macon Housing Authority, spearheaded the project.

The marquee feature from the Daybreak center perspective are the dozen medical respite rooms for unhoused people to recover in after leaving the hospital.

“We had one guy come out of the hospital having had open heart surgery, and he was sleeping under the bridge,” said Sally Proffitt, volunteer nurse in the Daybreak health clinic. “You know, we have people come out that need oxygen. They can’t have oxygen on the street.”

The health care provided by Proffitt and others has been augmented in recent years by services from the federally guaranteed First Choice Primary Care clinic and Piedmont Macon, the city’s second largest hospital.

Chuck Levesque, CEO of Daybreak’s parent organization Depaul USA, said during the ceremony held to mark the near completion of the apartments that the respite beds will be filled by unhoused people discharged from Piedmont’s hospital on Macon’s east side.

A medical respite room at Central City Apartments as shown during the May 20, 2024 dedication of the building. (Grant Blankenship/GPB)

They’re going to come here, have a bed, and then we’ll have a case manager who works with them to put them into housing,” Levesque said. “So not only are they getting better from their physical problems, their health issues, they’re getting housing as well.”

While the idea for Central City Apartments flowed from the vision of Catholic Church-affiliated Depaul USA, the lion’s share of the financing was managed by the Macon Housing Authority.

“In the last few years, we have seen unprecedented increases in rent,” MHA head Mike Austin said. “This has placed hundreds of thousands of people on the streets and hundreds of thousands more who are literally right now, as we speak, one late rent payment away from eviction.”

But, Austin said, building the remedy of more affordable housing is easier legally and financially easier said than done.

“There are several reasons, but chief among these is that affordable housing is expensive to build and operate, and the revenues are capped by statute, meaning that when a plumber shows up, we don’t get a 30% discount and we can’t pay for cost increases simply by raising the rent,” Austin said.

Plus, by statute, Georgia does not allow counties or cities to broadly cap rents — so-called rent control.

Still, Daybreak Center leader Sister Theresa Sullivan said the completion of the apartments offers a counterpoint to naysayers.

“They say that person will never get off the streets,” Sullivan said. “But they do and they can.  They can get the health care that they need.”

And, she added, our country can provide affordable housing.

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