Driving in a car next to her abuser, Jessica Cardwell had a daydream of living on a farm, peering through a window and watching herself and her three little girls dance around a house they could call their own. Through that window in her mind she saw safety, happiness and peace.
GreenHouse17, an advocacy agency started in 2004 that is dedicated to helping victims of domestic violence, is helping make Cardwell’s daydream a reality.
Her apartment is one of twelve single-story cottage-style duplexes located on the GreenHouse17 grounds near the agency’s operating farm, while the other twelve are inside New Circle Road along bus routes.
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“For about two years I was with a man that emotionally, physically at times, was abusive, and I lost a lot all at one time,” Cardwell said Tuesday as officials held a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the apartments. “My children, my car, my home, and everything all at once, and I just decided that I’m not going to take that anymore. I’m not going to live like that anymore, so like I said I didn’t know where to go. I was homeless, and I found this place. I called the number. They had a bed open and I said, ‘I’m on my way.’”
I was homeless, and I found this place. I called the number. They had a bed open and I said, ‘I’m on my way.’
Jessica Cardwell, survivor
KCADV and GreenHouse17 have been working for more than three years to plan, fund and construct the $4.6 million project. The project was funded with $3.2 million in investor equity generated by low-income housing tax credits and a variety of low-interest loans. Rental assistance is being provided by the Lexington Housing Authority.
GreenHouse17, which also operates an emergency shelter and offers a wide range of assistance to survivors of domestic violence, helps about 10,000 families each year in its 17-county service area. There are 24 families living in the new apartments, and several more families are on a waiting list.
The goal is to support the families as they become self-sufficient over two to four years.
“People should not be defined by being a victim of anything, and you should get to reestablish yourself, you know, work toward self-sufficiency and move on with life,” said Darlene Thomas, executive director of GreenHouse17.
Lexington Mayor Jim Gray and Sen. Ralph Alvarado congratulated the agencies for providing affordable housing to some of the region’s most vulnerable families.
“It is wonderful to see officials from city and state governments working with non-profit agencies like the coalition and GreenHouse17 to help victims of domestic violence before they become self-sufficient and really confident again in life,” Alvarado said. “These beautiful homes will house families who have really persevered through a very challenging and difficult situation. They came to GreenHouse17 for help and now they have a place to call home.”
To be eligible for housing, individuals must be survivors of domestic violence and have incomes at or below 60 percent of the area median income. They must also receive case management, including referrals to public assistance, educational and employment programs, and other community-based services. The survivors are given the opportunity to participate in financial education, credit counseling, micro loans, free tax-preparation services and the ability to open matched savings accounts.
Paidin Dermody: 859-231-3335
If you need help
GreenHouse17 has a 24-hour domestic violence crisis line that can reached at 800-544-2022.