The Eastern Scholar House, located on Paul van Hoose Drive, has had single parent residents living in the units since July 15, but only recently had its ribbon cutting ceremony.
On Friday, September 8, EKU administration officially introduced the Eastern Scholar House to campus. Though the house is located on EKU’s campus, it is not owned or operated by EKU.
“Eastern Scholar House is operated by KRFDC,” said Karen Atkins, public information and projects director for Kentucky River Foothills Drive Council (KRFDC). “Although located on leased land at EKU and prioritizing student parents, this program is not a form of student housing.”
Atkins said it’s important to let the public know that the Eastern Scholar House is not affiliated with EKU housing because it could lead to a funding violation and even cost the Eastern Scholar Housing funding to be retracted.
“Eastern Scholar House is not just a housing program,” Atkins said. “Rather, it is a combination of education supports, housing and child development services all of which are independent.”
According to the Eastern Scholar House Project Fact Sheet, there are 39 two-bedroom units. The project cost $10.5 million and was primarily funded by Kentucky Housing Corporation.
The Project Fact Sheet also states the Low Income Housing Tax Credits and Affordable Housing Trust Fund represents $8.4 million in the project and have a $6 million loan from Fahe Consulting.
The Eastern Scholar Houses prioritizes single parents who are attending college, Atkins said.
Eastern Scholar House director Melissa Gross said the single parent students who live in the Eastern Scholar House can attend any institution of higher learning.
Gross said this could include EKU, University of Kentucky, Bluegrass Community and Technical College and Morehead State University. As long as the single parents are enrolled in an institution of higher learning that is affiliated with the Eastern Scholar House, they can live in the housing units.
“It really is life changing,” said Noah Short, junior occupational therapy major, transfer student from the University of Louisville and one of the residents living in the Eastern Scholar House.
Short said her original plan was to attend Spalding University to study Occupational Therapy, because it was the only other school in the state that offered the major. However, after she had her daughter at the age of 21, she said her plans changed. This was because she couldn’t afford childcare, Short said.
She added that she knew from day one that she was raising her daughter alone. Short said she worked as a waitress but quit the job to babysit and take care of her daughter since there was no one reliable.
Her original plan was to wait until her daughter started school so she could return to college, Short said. When a friend told her about the Eastern Scholar House she said that’s when she decided to apply.
“I have no excuse now,” Short said.
The application involved multiple processes and interviews, Short said. First, she had to apply to live at the Eastern Scholar House, the KRFDC reviewed her application, she had to be interviewed once the application was reviewed then waited to be approved or denied.
Additionally, Short said she had to apply for Section 8 and be approved with the office. This is all because the Eastern Scholar House is income based and if a single parent student makes too much they could be denied, Short said.
She said the Eastern Scholar House is on the same sliding scale as food stamps and other income based government assistance. When the daycare opens, she has to participate in a screening for her daughter to attend, Short said.
The childcare center will work similarly to a head start program and will have teachers working with the children, Short said.
She said she wishes the childcare center was already open because at the moment she has to drive to Berea five days a week to pick up and drop off her daughter to her sister-in-law. However, she said she knows she only has to wait a few more days because the child care center will be opening soon.
“I don’t have to worry about my child’s well-being,” Short said.
Short said she was worried about living in downtown Louisville when she attended the university, because she always heard about crime.
She said with the Eastern Scholar House she loves the fact there are intermural fields on one side of the building and grass on the other. Short added that she doesn’t have to compromise her daughter’s safety thanks to the Scholar House.
In addition to this, Short said when she attended the University of Louisville she was a commuter for three years and was unable to have the college experience.
“Now I’m a mom and I’m not getting the campus experience as traditional students,” Short said.
However, she said because of the Eastern Scholar House, she’s made friends and loves how there’s a single mom community.
Short added that when she talks to her friends they aren’t going to say they will be out partying during the weekend, but instead be taking care of their children. Short said she now understands the phrase it takes a village to raise a child.
Short said she thought that she wouldn’t be able to follow the original path she set for herself, because of the fact she’s a single parent.
But now she said she’s able to work on her future and brighten her daughter’s life no matter “what cards are dealt.” Short said she moved into the Eastern Scholar House on August 1 and will more than likely live there until she receives her master’s degree.
“This all happened because there are people who care about my well-being,” said Short.