JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. (WJHL) — A new six-unit apartment complex aims to help people recovering from opioid use disorder and is ready to begin housing residents as early as April.

“Myrtle Court” is a partnership between the Johnson City Housing Authority (JCHA) and the Tennessee Housing Development Agency (THDA), which provided a $500,000 grant to help build the apartments on Steel Street. Tennessee’s Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services is also involved, collaborating with THDA in a “Creating Homes Initiative.”

Six new units managed by Johnson City Housing Authority will serve people recovering from opioid use disorder in Johnson City, Tenn. (WJHL photo)

“The need in the community is really drastic right now,” JCHA Executive Director Sam Edwards told News Channel 11 at a ribbon cutting on site. “Six units is not a huge impact, but it’s some impact and we’re proud to offer that. There’s definitely more opportunity and plenty of options for us to be able to expand out capacity and offer more housing to this population.”

JCHA and partners, including Frontier Health, are using what’s called a “Housing First” model with the apartments, which will be available to men and women earning less than 80% of the area’s median income. The model focuses on immediate access to housing to facilitate better treatment outcomes, according to a news release.

JCHA will collaborate with Frontier and other local nonprofits and treatment facilities to refer residents to the new apartments, Edwards said.

“Most of our partner organizations are already aware and we’re going to continue to develop those partnerships with new organizations to take referrals.”

“Hopefully these units will be critical in their recovery,” Edwards said of the 700-square-foot, one-bedroom apartments. “We’re going to require that they’re active in their current treatment programs.”

He said JCHA will offer additional supportive services for the residents “to continue their stable recovery.”

The Myrtle Court project also included a $358,000 match from JCHA’s non-profit arm, Keystone Development, and came in $100,000 under budget with much of the contracting work done in-house by Keystone Development.

JCHA’s project received the maximum $500,000 award as part of the initial 2020 grant funding round, which totaled $3 million.