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Legacy Decatur exploring opportunity to provide affordable, temporary housing for refugees

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Legacy Decatur exploring opportunity to provide affordable, temporary housing for refugees

The Administration Building at Legacy Park on South Columbia Drive in the city of Decatur on August 12, 2020. The park occupies the former site of the United Methodist Children’s Home. Photo by Dean Hesse.

This story has been updated. 

Decatur, GA — Residents may soon move in to a cottage at Legacy Park temporarily. Legacy Decatur is exploring an opportunity to work with Inspiritus to provide affordable, temporary housing to refugees at Sam Bell Cottage.

If approved, the lease agreement would be with Inspiritus and not the refugees themselves. Legacy Decatur hopes families would be able to move into the cottage in March and the lease would end in December.

Inspiritus, a refugee resettlement agency, is looking to place two related families in the cottage. The agency would like the rent to be obtainable for the families to pay themselves, which would be about $2,100- $2,400 a month, Legacy Decatur staff member Madeleine Henner said. It’s unclear whether the families would receive any rental assistance as part of this arrangement. A message to Legacy Park staff seeking additional information was not immediately returned.

Henner said Inspiritus would clean the space, provide furniture and appliances, and would leave the appliances in Sam Bell Cottage after the families move out.

Henner said that Sam Bell Cottage would be the only one available for this housing, as its HVAC system is in good condition. Legacy Decatur Executive Director Lyn Menne said there are two buildings at the park that aren’t being used but need some renovations, which would not be done in time for the refugee families to move in to.

“Not only are we able to meet a critical need in the Atlanta metro area, but we’ll also generate some revenue that we’re not getting from those buildings…and we get some appliances that we need that we could pass along…,” Menne said. “They would be responsible for managing it, any social services, [and] taking care of the tenants. It would be a deal with Inspiritus.”

Children would eventually enter the school system, but Henner said they don’t enter the schools right away, and some kids may participate in the Global Village Project.

One Legacy Park board member wondered how this fits into the mission and master plan of Legacy Decatur.

“The way that I see it is that we couldn’t right now manage having someone move in full time for an extended period,” Henner said. “This is kind of a trial run for us as Legacy Decatur to have that residential piece and work with another organization who’s doing the direct tenant-landlord part. It’s an ability for us for nine months, or however long, to see what gaps we have while providing affordable housing with a group that really needs it right now in a temporary manner.”

Menne added that the Legacy Decatur staff couldn’t find a downside to working with Inspiritus and providing this housing. She said the project meets Legacy Decatur’s mission and will also give Sam Bell Cottage some needed improvements and appliances, and be available for the next affordable housing project as Legacy Decatur, the city and the Decatur Housing Authority develop affordable housing at the park.

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