ROCHESTER — Just as the namesake of Son House Apartments got a second chance at life, Carmen Sanchez is getting hers.
Sanchez, who moved into Providence Housing Development Corp.’s newest apartment building in December, has been clean for nine months and jumped at the chance to live at Son House on Joseph Avenue.
She said her next goal is to build a stable life so she can re-establish contact with her four children.
"It’s a blessing to have a new life, and you guys gave me the second chance in life," Sanchez said. "I’m blessed. I’m really happy at being chosen to live here."
Providence, Catholic Family Center, state officials and local developers celebrated the opening of Son House Apartments with a ribbon cutting Feb. 24. Funding for the project came from the New York State Homes and Community Renewal, the New York State Homeless Housing and Assistance Corp., the Federal Home Loan Bank of New York and First Niagara Bank. The project was developed by SWBR Architects, Lecesse Construction, Stantec Engineering and Comfort Systems USA.
The new building, which offers 21 energy-efficient apartments as permanent housing for individuals who have struggled with homelessness, was built and is being managed by Providence. The housing is for individuals with incomes at 30 percent to 50 percent of the area median income, and tenants pay 30 percent of their income toward rent, including utilities.
Son House is named for famed blues musician Eddie James "Son" House, whose musical career was derailed by addictions, prison time and homelessness. He was rediscovered by fans while living in Rochester and experienced a comeback in his musical career.
Like the musician, residents of the apartment building are getting a second chance in life, said Deacon John McDermott, executive director of Providence.
"We aim to help these individuals find their path in life," Deacon McDermott said.
Catholic Family Center will offer supportive services, including case management and employment-skills workshops, at the location. The space includes offices, a computer room and small conference rooms for meetings with clients.
John Paul Perez, director of Catholic Family Center’s Housing Services, said for the time being, the Catholic Family Center space will be used by residents of Son House and of Catholic Family Center’s other supportive housing, LaFayette Housing Program, which provides 13 apartments and supportive services for people who are homeless or are at risk of becoming homeless. Yet the agency hopes to invite in other agencies that serve homeless populations to use the space as needed, Perez said.
Son House resident Thomas Skellen said he is grateful for the support.
"When I was young, I made some bad decisions and choices in my life," Skellen said. "So many things happened in my life that I wasn’t proud of."
It wasn’t until he met a therapist during a stint in prison that he realized he wanted to turn around his life. He said he is grateful to have support and safe housing as he continues making positive changes in his life.
"I want to be positive and I want to make these changes that are necessary to be a good, solid member of society," Skellen said.