Beaverton-based disability nonprofit receives $300k grant
The Edwards Center, a Beaverton-based nonprofit, received a $300,000 grant from the Kuni Foundation to help complete its inclusive housing model for adults with intellectual and developmental disabilities.
The center's housing model, located in Aloha, will increase housing access for adults with disabilities. The model groups homes together into a pocket neighborhood and allows people to live together with their parents or caregivers while receiving support and social connection.
Founder and President Emerita Jean Edwards said usual group home models don't give parents a choice to stay with their children when they become adults.
"Many parents wanted to remain with their child into their aging years, but they needed help," said Edwards. "The needs of their child were getting more than they could take. So this supportive community — this mixed-use housing that we have created there — allows for families to remain living with their child."
The pocket neighborhood, called Edwards Place, currently includes four homes. Two have been occupied since December 2014 and two since July 2017. The nonprofit created this new community in addition to its 19 other residences.
When completed, the neighborhood will include five homes each with an accessory dwelling unit. The accessory units can house families, parents or caregivers, but also — thanks to changes in Oregon's zoning laws — people with disabilities living independently, Edwards said. In total, the neighborhood will house up to 35 people.
"We're kind of all related in this community on the basis that everybody shares the fact that they either have a disability or their child has a disability," Edwards said.
While the organization is designing Edwards Place to be an integrated setting, it also provides services to connect its residents with the surrounding community. Residents go to the neighborhood bowling alley, play shuffleboard or go out golfing, for example.
"We believe that our people deserve to enjoy their community as equals to others, so we try to access community resources as much as possible," Edwards said.
The Edwards Center also provides training, education, employment and social opportunities to individuals with disabilities that aren't residents at Edwards place or its other residences. Over 300 people participate in its programs.
Edwards said her organization has worked with the Kuni Foundation off and on since the Edwards Center was created 50 years ago.
"They've been willing as a foundation to support groups that are doing innovative ideas. There's lots of organizations that have group homes, there's foster homes, but they were interested in somebody who's creating a new kind of model."
The Kuni Foundation, based in Vancouver, Washington, funds cancer research and initiatives that help people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. The award to the Edwards Center is one of five given to organizations leading efforts to address the housing crisis for individuals with disabilities.
The Kuni Foundation even opened a residential community for independent adults with disabilities, Stephen's Place, in 2017 in Vancouver, Washington.
In a press release, Greg Goodwin, board chair for the foundation, said, "We are committed to closing funding gaps that impact underserved communities and initiatives, and these grants … advance affordable housing for some of our community's most vulnerable members."
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