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New affordable housing unit officially opens its doors in Springfield

Maplewood Villas sign (photo taken August 29, 2023)
Michele Skalicky
Maplewood Villas sign (photo taken August 29, 2023)

The Kitchen Inc. held a ribbon cutting for Maplewood Villas on Tuesday.

Leases have been signed for all of the 44 units at The Kitchen Inc.’s latest affordable housing development Maplewood Villas, and most residents have already moved in. On Tuesday, officials cut the ribbon on the new housing unit.

The development off W. Chestnut Expressway on N. Duke is for low-income residents 55 and older.

Lora Ford sits on her new front porch at Maplewood Villas (photo taken August 29, 2023)
Michele Skalicky
Lora Ford sits on her new front porch at Maplewood Villas (photo taken August 29, 2023)

Lora Ford moved in at the end of July. Her apartment is immaculate and filled with beautiful décor, and she’s already settled in.

"I like it," she said. "It's good to me — quiet."

A few apartments to the east is where Rijne O’Malley now lives. The former Marine Corps veteran says she got sick from drinking the water at Camp LeJeune where she was stationed. According to the Veterans Administration, evidence shows a link between certain health conditions and exposure to chemicals found in the water at the military base up until the late 1980s.

Rijne O'Malley stands next to cartoons drawn by her father at her new apartment at Maplewood Villas (photo taken August 29, 2023)
Michele Skalicky
Rijne O'Malley stands next to cartoons drawn by her father at her new apartment at Maplewood Villas (photo taken August 29, 2023)

She said life was difficult before she came to Maplewood Villas.

"It was really hard because I'm on disability only," she said, "and rent was very expensive."

And she had trouble getting up and down the stairs to her former apartment. This one has no stairs – and it has a washer and dryer, which she’s never had before.

Maplewood Villas will have a case manager on site to help with any needs the residents might have.

The Kitchen Inc.’s executive director Meleah Spencer said getting people into affordable housing is key to ending homelessness, and even though there’s still a big need for it, this has made a difference.

"These 44 are safely housed," she said, "so we can focus on helping others that are experiencing homelessness."

The Kitchen Inc. operatesfive affordable housing developments. Spencer said they’ll continue to work to develop more as the need persists.

The Kitchen Inc. has been developing affordable housing for the Springfield community since the late 80s, and Spencer says they’ll continue to do so as the need persists.

Michele Skalicky has worked at KSMU since the station occupied the old white house at National and Grand. She enjoys working on both the announcing side and in news and has been the recipient of statewide and national awards for news reporting. She likes to tell stories that make a difference. Michele enjoys outdoor activities, including hiking, camping and leisurely kayaking.