Tenant ready to move into Little Rock home renovated to house working homeless people

This home on Heather Lane on Little Rock's east side was recently renovated by Depaul USA in an effort to increase the amount of affordable housing in the city. (Photo: KATV)

Just a little more than two months after non-profit Depaul USA purchased the home on Heather Lane, the home some might have previously called a gut job is ready for its first tenant.

"You read about it - you may have seen it on the news," said Vincent Talley, speaking about how strange feels to be the home's first renter.

"It's a totally different thing. Bad things happen to me," said Talley. "And you know, this is amazing - this is a God blessed amazing thing."

Talley was homeless just three years ago after spending some time in prison over drug use. After a stay at Nehemiah House, a drug rehab program in Little Rock, Talley began working at another place he frequented while homeless - Jericho Way - Little Rock's homeless day resource center operated by Depaul USA.

"It's just been one blessing after another," said Talley.

The home may be empty at the moment, but that's where Little Rock non-profit Settled Souls comes in.

"Our missions is to come in and make the apartment that a homeless person is moving into for permanent housing more of a home," said Stephanie Byers, president of Settled Souls. "So we go in and furnish it from top to bottom in therms of den, bedroom, kitchen goods, bathroom goods that they need."

Talley's new home is part of Depaul USA's international 13 Houses campaign, a project aiming to end homelessness with the creation of affordable housing in every country.

"Part of the solution to homelessness is prevention," said Chuck Levesque, executive director of Depaul USA. "So part of prevention is having enough affordable housing that people can remain in and build their lives on - so it's part of a prevention strategy as well as an alleviation strategy."

Levesque said the home on Heather Lane is only the beginning of Depaul USA's involvement in affordable housing in Little Rock. The organization has plans and funding to build three duplexes to help house people transitioning out of homelessness or are on the verge of homelessness, according to Levesque.

So far it's been difficult to secure affordable land, according to Levesque, but Levesque mentioned he spent Tuesday afternoon scouring the city for potential sites.

The housing, like the property on Heather Lane, will be income-based. Levesque said tenants would be charged 25-30 percent of their income on housing, but still be responsible for utility payments.

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