I wanted to share my perspective about Bethesda Cornerstone Village as the Victoria City Council prepares to discuss the project at its July 8 meeting.
Cornerstone Village represents a unique opportunity to create truly integrated community living for seniors and people with intellectual and developmental disabilities here in Victoria.
First, a little about Bethesda, and about me. We are a 115-year-old, national Christian organization, providing homes and other services for people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We have numerous locations in Minnesota and I am proud to serve as the regional director. I have been with the organization for six years, but in the field for more than 40.
Cornerstone Village is a first of its kind in the U.S. It will be a 52-unit Christian, adult, residential community catering to seniors and people with an intellectual/developmental disability who live independently.
It will be on the site of our intermediate care facility, four buildings located at 1501, 1511, 1521 and 1531 82nd St., which are obsolete and no longer occupied. We’ll offer apartment homes and villas that will integrate people with a disability with adults of all abilities 55 years and older. Up to 25 percent of units will serve persons with a disability.
Once built, Cornerstone Village will foster independence and empower choice. People will get to choose where they live, who they live with and how they spend their time. You may ask, “Is this needed in our community?” I would say an emphatic yes, by pointing out a national trend that also applies here at home. There’s a major shortage of adult/independent living options for people with developmental disabilities.
According to The ARC, more than 850,000 people in the U.S. with intellectual or developmental disabilities live with an aging caregiver (60+). A shortage of housing and support services increases the risk that these individuals will become institutionalized or homeless.
Affordability is an ongoing issue. According to the Technical Assistance Collaborative, in 2016 there was no U.S. housing market where a person with a disability whose sole source of income was supplemental security income (SSI) could afford a safe, decent rental unit. There are 4.8 million people with disabilities living only on SSI.
Additionally, our market research has indicated a high demand for housing for 55+ individuals right here in our community. Our solution is to create nice homes that fit well into the existing neighborhood, and that people can afford. We’re the right team to make this happen, too. Bethesda is one of the nation’s largest and most highly respected providers of resources for adults with disabilities. This is what leaders do — identify a need and create solutions.
Our history with Victoria goes back nearly 50 years. Our Minnesota operations are based here. We recognize that Victoria is a great place to live, work and participate in the community. What we hope to do is create spaces where more people can enjoy the area.
We have been working with the city for many months on redeveloping the property into Cornerstone Village. We feel fortunate to have found broad support among our neighbors, city leaders and other stakeholders for this project. We are hopeful the city will approve a funding option that will help subsidize rent and allow us to fully realize our vision for people with disabilities.
Pending approval, we will break ground shortly thereafter, with a goal of being open in late summer of 2020. Then, we hope to expand the concept by building additional Cornerstone Village locations across the country. Each will be tailored to the needs and demographics of their communities.
Bethesda’s spectrum of services continues to evolve as we strive to reflect the needs of the people and families we support, which in recent years has focused on independence and community inclusion.
We are proud to be a change agent in implementing forward-thinking solutions that improve the lives of people with intellectual and developmental disabilities. We’re excited to take this step with you to create a truly integrated community.