Once blighted apartment building reopens to those in need

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KANSAS CITY, Mo. - Inside the Augustine S. Cameron Place apartment building, residents, veterans and developers officially opened the new building. With help from Polsinelli Law firm and Legal Aid of Missouri, Swope Community Builders purchased the abandoned building in 2012, tore it down and built a new home for those who need it most.

The apartments are located just down the hill from VA Hospital and according to developers, it's the right fit for the community.

"We have worked very hard on transforming a blighted building into this beautiful project," said Art Chaudy of Swope Community Builders. "We know have a place that is a welcoming place for veterans, their families and population with special needs including the homeless."

The building is named after Augustine Cameron, a lifelong advocate for veteran and special needs service. Residents of the building are disabled veterans and people with physical, emotional or mental impairment, developmental disabilities, individuals who are homeless, and youth who are aging out of foster care.

"A big sigh of relief," said Leonard Ashley. "I've been homeless for three years."

Ashley now has a one bedroom apartment that's all his.

"I put my key in the door and heard the echo in my place. That was it, it was the best feeling in the world," said Ashley.

Ashley said this home and everyone who made it possible saved his life. His new neighbors have also helped him get back on his feet, letting him borrow a television until he got one. Also, a man on the third floor let Ashley borrow an air mattress until his bed arrived.

"Everybody helps everybody out here and that's what makes this place so special," said Ashley.

The unit mix consists of 26 one-bedroom, 16 two-bedroom, and 6 three-bedroom units ranging in size from 678 square feet to 1,183 square feet. Amenities include a community space with attached patio, energy efficient appliances, onsite laundry facilities and management offices

Swope Health Services said 22 of the units have already been rented out and they expect to be at full capacity by the end of the year.

Watch a previous report about the apartments.

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