Grand Opening of Stepstone at Bluffview Place

Bluffview Place is a $5 million project in the Hilltop neighborhood built in partnership with Mennonite Housing. It represents a new approach in offering assistance to survivors of domestic violence.

Previously, they were offered shelter in homes scattered around town. The complex significantly increases StepStone’s current capacity to help families, officials say.

When construction began last fall, StepStone had 14 single-family homes throughout Wichita for use by survivors and their children.
But StepStone is selling some of those houses and buying duplexes closer to Bluffview Place so tenants can more easily access assistance and services available at the complex.

StepStone adopted a multi-unit complex concept for survivors because experience has shown families do better when close to staff  and others who know what life for someone who has suffered abuse is like.

The security measures are vital at Bluffview Place because lethality is increasing in domestic violence cases, Kimble has said.
Victims are in greater danger of serious harm or even death than in years past.

The 28 units – a mix of one-, two-, three- and four-bedroom apartments – are separated into three buildings, which have been nicknamed Faith, Hope and Love.

The gated community has 16 external cameras to monitor for trespassers. Residents can gain entrance only through use of a key fob, and all other visitors are bused to the complex office in the central community building.

StepStone officials hope to move the first families into the complex in a couple of weeks and have 12 units in use by the end of the year.

Clients can stay for as long as two years and continue to access support programs for as long as they need them, Wasinger said.

The project was financed through a combination of tax credits from the state agency Kansas Housing Resources Corp. and financing from Midwest Housing Equity Group, Horizon Bank and FHLBank of Topeka, officials said.

Seven houses in Hilltop were torn down to make room for Bluffview Place. Nine lots in the lower-income neighborhood, originally built to provide housing for aircraft workers during World War II, were used in the project.

Mennonite Housing will manage the property now that the complex is completed.

Byron Adrian, president and CEO of Mennonite Housing, said the group would like to get involved in more transitional housing projects. The project was plagued by uncooperative weather, but Adrian said they were able to keep it on schedule.

More than 30 police officers and two police captains were among those who helped move tables, chairs, cabinets and mattresses into the apartments last week.

“For me, it’s about giving back to the community and helping others,” Wichita police Capt. Dan East said. “We may not know who we’re helping or how we’re helping them, but for that family to have a safe place in a difficult time, that can make all the difference.”

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