New St. Vincent de Paul housing opens

O'Brien honored at ceremony

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At the ribbon cutting of the new John O'Brien House Pat O'Brien applauds a speaker Tuesday afternoon. The John O'Brien House offers 14 units for those with a chronic mental illness and/or disabilities and for many residents the hour will be their first permanent residence.

A ribbon-cutting was held Tuesday morning to celebrate the new John O'Brien House at St. Vincent de Paul. The Homestead Street facility offers housing for low-income residents with a chronic mental illness and/or disabilities.

Pat O'Brien, who attended the ceremony with her son, Brian, said, "It's such an honor to have this building named after my late husband. I'm also delighted to see it's already totally occupied."

John O'Brien served on the St. Vincent de Paul board before becoming its president from 1999 to 2005. He was a longtime dedicated volunteer in the Coeur d'Alene community.

The new building has 14 apartments, all but one of which are single bedroom units. Apartments come with a one-year lease and residents must meet HUD income standards to be eligible for the units. Additionally, they must recertify every year.

Kelli Lunceford, housing director for St. Vincent de Paul, conducted a tour of the manager's spacious two-bedroom unit on Wednesday. The apartment is still unoccupied, since the position of manager has not yet been filled. Lunceford said she has had 85 applications for the job.

"There is a huge need for places like this," she said. "We've got residents here now who were previously living in their cars, as well as people who've never before had permanent housing."

One new resident, who went by the name "James" said, "This is working out great for me." James identified himself as a National Guard veteran.

Mayor Sandi Bloem and Pat O'Brien cut the ceremonial ribbon.

"What has been built here today is more than a beautiful building," said John Bruning, outgoing St. Vincent de Paul board member. "It is, rather, a home."

City Councilman John Bruning speaks at the ribbon cutting ceremony Tuesday for the new John O'Brien House, which offers 14 units for those with a chronic mental illness and/or disabilities.


Herold Markiewicz with the American Legion Honor Guard helps to raise a flag belonging to John O'Brien during the ribbon cutting ceremony at the new John O'Brien House Tuesday.

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