Available and affordable housing are a challenge in most communities. Finding suitable housing is a special challenge for the special needs community – young adults with intellectual disabilities who are ready to live on their own, but not fully independent.

Now a group of area parents, led by Kris Lamkin, are coming together to spark an interest and give people with intellectual disabilities a place to live on their own.

It’s called the Eva Project, named after Eva Lamkin, 22, daughter of Kris and James Lamkin of Waconia. Eva nearly died at birth, born at a 26-week gestation, but is living today as a young adult with minimal issues. However, Eva will always need some help to live on her own, her mom says, and the Eva Project’s goal is to support adults with intellectual disabilities by giving them a choice to live independently and integrate them into the Carver County community. The intent is to establish independent units for residents to make their own, with the community built into the design of the property. Ideas and concepts for the space would come from the individuals who will be living there. Spaces would be warm, welcoming and secure, Lamkin said, with opportunities to promote community through informal gatherings, such as picnics, pizza nights, sports programs and other events.

The end result: People with disabilities can live independent lives to the fullest, and feel confident and happy.

“The Eva Project believes engaged residents make for a healthy community,” Lamkin said.

Unfortunately, current housing options for special needs young adults are limited. They include staying with their family, or “living in their parents’ basement” Lamkin calls it; group homes, assisted living – which is mostly senior based, or Section 8 housing.

“Section 8 is not compatible with vulnerable adults and none of the options is an ideal situation,” Lamkin said.

The Eva Project housing idea is part assisted living, part dorm, part sorority/fraternity with a “house mom,” Lamkin explains.

Some examples of similar models in neighboring communities include Bethesda Cornerstone Village in Victoria, J-Hap in Golden Valley, Accessible Space, Inc., in Roseville and Hammer House in Wayzata.

“This community has been overwhelmingly supportive in providing opportunities for people with disabilities,” Lamkin said. Among them are its special education and transition programs, Unified Sports teams and Special Olympics, and Sam and Friends store, to name a few. Now she hopes the community will be supportive of the Eva Project too.

The organization will be established as a 501c3 non-profit and next year will begin to focus on securing funding for the initiative, according to Lamkin.

There are government programs available that provide funding to develop and support rental housing opportunities for persons with disabilities. Eva Project also will be seeking corporate sponsorships and donations, and crowdsourcing opportunities through avenues like GoFundMe.org.

The goal is to secure adequate funding to kick off a building project in 2022 and open its doors in 2023. If you would like to be involved, reach out to Kris Lamkin via her email: kris.lamkin@gmail.com.

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