About a year ago, we carried a story about how the special needs community faces special challenges when it comes to finding suitable housing. At the time we introduced readers to the Eva Project, now called the Eva Sophia Project, an initiative to establish independent living units for young adults who are ready to be on their own, but not fully independent.
Today that initiative is taking shape in the form of a non-profit working to gain Section 501(c)(3) status with the IRS. The project now has a board of directors at the early stages of planning and organizing. The goal is to build a 45-unit independent living apartment building in the community that could fill the bill for the special needs community. There is also a website with information about the project.
Kris Lamkin and Holly Meyers are founders and directors of the Eva Sophia Project. Kris’ daughter Eva and Holly’s daughter Sophia both have some developmental disabilities and both have been inseparable since they first met in 2009. They also are capable of living on their own with some assistance, their mothers say.
Upon looking to Eva and Sophia’s futures, the Eva Sophia Project was born. In their conversations, Lamkin and Meyers discovered other parents with young people in similar situations. They also realized the need to establish a more formal structure for their vision.
Wade Scott, who has a 19-year-old son Mitchell with Downs Syndrome, serves on the board of directors and is helping with the non-profit application process.
“It’s a slow process, but critical to launch the project and achieve our fundraising goals,” he says.
The project’s overall goal is to support adults with intellectual disabilities by giving them a choice to live independently and integrate them into the Carver County community.
Institutions and group homes do not provide that level of integration, support, social opportunities, and choice, Lamkin notes.
Scott indicates the type of apartments the board is considering is a suitable approach from a housing, care, and financial perspective. It’s comparable to independent living apartments existing in Golden Valley called Cornerstone Creek.
Lamkin calls the housing idea part assisted living, part dorm, part sorority/fraternity with a residence manager. Ideally, built in Waconia, and embraced by the community and its supportive businesses.
She notes that programs like Special Olympics, Unified Sports, and transitions program through Waconia and other local high schools are great at bringing young people together, but when they are over, the young adults “go back home and are living in their parent’s home.” Lamkin explains that up to 60 percent of young adults with intellectual disabilities are living with elderly parents, so what happens to them after mom and dad are gone or no longer to care for them is another consideration.
“It would be great if they could have a place where they live independently and have as much of a normal life as possible,” Scott said.
For more information visit their website www.evasophiaproject.org for more information and to find out ways to provide support.