Studies show that 70% of the factors in children’s lives that impact educational attainment happen outside of school. And having housing stability is a huge determinant of success.
Frayser, one of Memphis’ oldest working-class communities, had the region’s highest concentration of vacant or nearly vacant multifamily buildings. There was a group of over 500 units of pretty distressed multifamily housing directly across the street from a high school. There is an elementary school next door and a middle school around the corner. A foundation wanted to tackle rehabbing the housing and came to us for our experience with Low-Income Housing Tax Credit projects.
Several banks asked to meet with us. But people didn’t want to take a bet on Frayser. For a moment we were kind of stuck. One of the people on our staff had worked with BlueHub for years — and BlueHub had already taken a bet with a Frayser charter school. We were thrilled to work with an organization with BlueHub’s experience.
We have taken the property down to the studs. We are creating 146 apartments for families at 60% or less of the median income. To support the school strategy, every unit has a washer and dryer; the cost of doing laundry can prevent children from coming to school because they don’t have clean clothes. We address health issues around respiratory disease. There will be a community space with WiFi access, where children can do their homework. We will offer computer classes and partner with Girls Inc., Memphis Athletic Ministries, and other nonprofits.
Yes, the whole idea is to replicate it in other areas across Memphis and the region, wherever there is a housing need.