Last week, the community of Lakeland celebrated the grand opening of the Vermont Place Apartments project and welcomed its first tenants.
“This changes everything,” Rev. McEntire remarked as he opened the ceremony with prayer.
While the 16 units at Vermont Place represent a relatively small project compared to the great need for affordable housing in Lakeland, their impact on the lives of their low-income tenants cannot be overstated.
Talbot House Ministries received over 100 applications within 24 hours of opening its selection process, demonstrating the overwhelming need for the project. The final tenants range from 20 to 70 years old. Many are working, although some are receiving fixed income. 60 percent of the tenants were either homeless or living in a homeless shelter when they applied for housing.
For some like Nohamel, 22, this will be the first place he has ever called his own. Danielle, a single mother, will be raising her four-year-old daughter Anaiyah at Vermont Place. Others are coming out of Talbot House’s residential shelter and are taking the next step after successfully achieving their personal goals.
Otis is one such resident. “You’re seeing a finished product of Talbot House,” he said, reflecting not only on the buildings behind him, but on his personal journey from homelessness to independence. He and another Talbot House resident, Helen, were selected to cut the ceremonial ribbon alongside the Mayor and board president Jim Lobinsky.
“This is a celebration at so many levels,” Mayor Mutz observed. The community’s investment in this project and others like it “makes Lakeland an even greater place to live.”
Talbot House Ministries’ board, staff, and residents extend their gratitude to everyone who rallied around this vision and helped to make it a reality.