New apartment complex, programs thriving at The Drake House

SWAHN

ROSWELL, Ga. — It’s been about half a year since The Drake House doubled its housing capacity, and all of its new families are doing well.

That’s according to Executive Director Kathy Swahn, who has seen eight families move in since the Drake Village opened for Drake House graduate families.

The Drake House offers short-term crisis housing for single mothers and their children. The 90-180-day program includes intensive background checks and several mandatory components. Those who stay at The Drake House must gain employment during their stay, attend life skills classes, make weekly appointments with career coaches, go through an empowerment program and engage in other life-building activities.

Graduates have the option to go to the Drake Village for up to two years of temporary, affordable housing.

“The apartments really help stabilize them in the community,” Swahn said. “It’s just up to getting the pay up to the rate that the moms can afford to stay here.”

The Drake Village is designed to help the mothers gain their footing while navigating the increasingly expensive housing market in North Atlanta. It’s the same lack of affordable housing that drive many of The Drake House’s mothers to seek help in the first place.

“Rents are getting so high here that its really pushing any kind of family on the edge further and further out into areas with no transportation,” Swahn said. “Given that our mothers are single mothers, most don’t get any entitlements or child support. They’re struggling to keep their affordability, their ability to pay only 30 percent of their income in rent. It’s just completely impossible here.”

Many families end up in The Drake House because they’re spending 50-60 percent of their income on housing, which is unsustainable, she added.

It’s estimated that a person would need to earn over $20 an hour to afford a two-bedroom apartment in this area, Swahn said.

There’s more help on the way from The Drake House. The organization is currently in the final stages of opening the last building in the Drake Village with the help of HomeAid Atlanta, which has converted all of the units of the former Roswell Oaks Apartments into two-bedroom units.

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Once renovations are complete, the building will open up an additional eight units, bringing The Drake House’s total capacity to 32 units.

Renovations are expected to be complete by the end of the year.

Two families are ready to move in as soon as the last building opens, and Swahn said she is confident all of the units will be fully occupied by February.

This year was also the second anniversary of The Drake House’s afterschool program for children in grades K-8. Volunteers and teachers work with the children of The Drake House mothers to provide stability and enrichment.

“Our moms usually have a lot of balls in the air,” Swahn said. “So this is really an opportunity for the children to really get care when mom is at work — safe, sanitary, protective, enriching programming.”

Children in The Drake House can continue to attend their original school thanks to a partnership with 60 Fulton County schools. The afterschool program offers structured recreation, healthy snacks, art programs, therapy dogs to help reading and tutoring opportunities.

“The stability that we’re seeing from the families is just remarkable,” Swahn said. “The children, who are used to experiencing a lot of movement from place to place, are being very stabilized and safe and secure, and they’re blossoming. We’re seeing an increase in attendance and academic scores.”

The program and organization is expected to grow in the coming year. Swahn said they are looking to hire more staff and career coaches to accommodate the Drake Village and the afterschool program.

For more information on The Drake House or to get involved, visit thedrakehouse.org.

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