Bonnie Murray: L’Abri Apartments a Shelter for People with Mental Illnesses

L’Abri Apartments

L'abri is a French phrase meaning "the shelter." It is a fitting name for L'Abri Apartments on North Phillips Avenue in Sioux Falls. The 25-unit apartment building is a shelter, a refuge and a safe place for residents with mental illnesses.

Bonnie Murray, who has been in the property management business for 40 years, owns L'Abri. She is fiercely protective of her residents. She understands their needs and she understands that people with mental illnesses fare better when their neighbors face the same issues. "If someone is 'off the bubble,' other residents recognize that quickly," stated Murray.

Murray Properties works closely with the counselors at Southeastern Behavioral Healthcare, a community mental health center in Sioux Falls. "Their good counselors make the residents easy to deal with, because they intervene before small problems become big problems," commented Murray. "Dealing with people with mental illnesses is not difficult at all if you have the right support," she said.

"When L'Abri was born, my mother wanted a place for recovering alcoholics," Murray said. Her mother bought the building, once a coffee and grocery wholesale distributor, and rehabbed it into apartments.

The focus of the apartment building shifted a short time later. The Department of Human Services began integrating patients back into the community and they needed a place to call home, but many of the former patients were ill-prepared for life outside an institution. That's when Murray Properties began leasing to people with mental illnesses.

SDHDA is the contract administrator providing Housing Assistance Payments for the property. "SDHDA does a lot to help keep L'Abri Apartments viable. I appreciate the partnership I have with SDHDA," stated Murray.